I love Mediterranean food.
Hummus. Baba ganoush. Tabouli. Falaffel. Kebabs.
I get really excited when a new non-American cuisine restaurant opens up in Columbus,especially one that is less than a mile from my apartment. So, when I read on Columbus Underground about Mazah, I knew I had to try it.
I enlisted the taste buds of my good friend Annie, who coincidentally had been craving hummus, and we trekked the short distance to Grandview Avenue this evening to try Mazah.
Mazah isn't easy to find, there isn't a sign on the outside of the restaurant. It is located next to Trattoria Roma, in between 3rd Avenue and 5th Avenue.
We entered the restaurant around 7:45, and it was pretty busy, only three tables were empty. We were seated and given menus. I must say, the best deal would have to be the sampler platters; one sampler had several salads, dips, a soup, and an entree for under $20; in other words, a lot of delish treats for a little.
I knew I had to get a lamb kebab. Lamb is my ultimate guilty pleasure. I try not to eat it very often, because the thought of killing a lamb is sad, but I cannot help myself when I go to a Middle Eastern/North Indian/Mediterranean restaurant.
When we were seated and after drink orders were taken, we were given some slices of pita bread and fresh hummus.
Um, no other restaurant I have been to in Columbus does this. Whereas Cafe Shish Kebab and Cafe Istanbul deliver their amazing breads with an olive oil/tomato dipping sauce, no one gives hummus. REALLY? Hummus is like, a $3-5 appetizer and we're getting it just for sitting down? That's like, almost as amazing as the endless chips and salsa at El Vaquero!
Annie and I settle on our meals, after much deliberation. The menu is pretty extensive. Besides the combination platters, there are a variety of dips, sandwiches, and entrees.
Annie went for the chicken shwarma platter, with a side of Mediterranean Potato Salad (yes, you read correctly, Potato Salad) and a Fava Bean Hummus.
I started with a lentil soup, and for the main event, went for the lamb kebab with rice, and baba ganoush. The owner came out to inform me, however, that there wasn't much baba ganoush left, so she would give me a generous helping of hummus.
The lentil soup arrived, and unfortunately I forgot to snap a picture. Mazah uses the green lentil, and I tasted hints of carrot, garlic, onion, and cumin. However, my soup was lukewarm. I love lentil soup, but it would have been even more delicious if it was warmer. This perhaps may have been due to our waitress; nice lady, just a wee bit slow.
Before, I had mentioned that the owner came out to inform me of the lack of baba ganoush,and said she'd provide some generous hummus.
Um, generous is used liberally here. The portions were HUGE.
Here is my meal:
And here is Annie's:
What a beautiful presentation on both plates. All of the dips and meats were arranged so neatly with the nicely seasoned rice.
The owner and wait staff came and checked on us after we got our meals. The owner even came and gave me some hot sauce for my kebab--score!
I used the generous bread that was left on the table to scoop up my food. The baba ganoush had a great eggplant taste; the eggplant was clearly roasted to perfection, and had contained the smokey flavor that makes eggplant so great. The hummus was creamy, and had a great balance of chickpea and garlic notes.
And now to the meat. Most restaurants in town have the kebab in the actual kebab shape, blocks. At Mazah, the kebabs were more flat, but still perfectly charred. The kebabs were on top of a spanish-flavored rice pilaf. It had a nice tomato taste, and was different from the plain basmati rice.
Annie ordered the Chicken Shwarma platter, with the potato salad and fava bean dip. I was intrigued by this potato salad so I had to sample Annie's.
Wow. Nothing like the typical potato salad that we're used to at potlucks and picnics. The soft potatoes were tossed in garlic and lemon sauce. Very nice. I would have eaten it all, except it was Annie's side dish.
The fava bean hummus had a smokier flavor than the traditional chick pea hummus, and a beautiful color.
Annie and I both wanted to try dessert, so we managed to eat only a portion of our meals.
I had read online about the tiramisu, so I ordered that. It was different from typical tiramisus, it had a nice rum flavor, and the marscapone creme was creamier than most places,
Annie ordered a version of Kunefe, a pastry with shredded vermicelli, a sweet simple syrup, and a filling of a light cheese. I was hoping that there would be more of a cheese surprise in the middle, but I think that the Kunefe at Shish Kebab is better.
Unfortunately, I snapped the pictures AFTER we had started eating the desserts. Whoops.
All in all, for $21, Mazah gave me a great meal. Apart from the spotty waitress, the draft from the door, and the dismal take out boxes (my leftovers did not fit in the tiny boxes that were provided, so I had to specifically ask for a larger box...um), Mazah was an enjoyable experience.
CONCLUSION: I will definitely be back to Mazah, and this time, I'll get the potato salad!