It’s a Friday afternoon. We were both done with classes and Spring Break was lurking around the corner. You know what else was lurking around the corner? V’s grumbling hungry stomach. We both decided it was a perfect day for our food adventure—it was pretty warm for March (good job Pittsburgh!). We went through our list (yes, we have a list of potential food places) and decided to check out Istanbul Grille in Downtown Pittsburgh. We hopped on a bus into town, but when we got there, the owner told us they ran out of food (it was 2 pm!). Disappointed, we wandered around downtown like two lost souls, hoping that we’ll find some other food place that’ll strike our fancy. Nothing! Most of the food places started clearing out at that time. Rule of thumb: Downtown Pittsburgh is dead after lunch time. We were starving so decided to drop by the nearby Au Bon Pain for a snack. C’mon now, Au Bon Pain is NOT exotic, but we were STARVING!
The place was nice, clean and well lit, but not very French (don’t let the name fool you). We made our way towards the limited selection of pastries (our tummies growled in protest). Z suggested that we try the “apple croissant”. It was a reasonable size, but cost a whopping $3 (for a friggin’ croissant!). We decided to eat outside because Pittsburgh’s bipolar weather decided to show some mercy today.
We sat down, eager to satiate (big azz word, thanks college “edumacated” Z) our grumbling bellies, BUT to our EXTREME dismay… where the heck are the apples in our APPLE croissant. We, broke-azz college students, paid 300 pennies (for those who have issues with math= $3.00) for a FAKE apple croissant. FALSE ADVERTISEMENT!!!!!! We were filled with murderous rage—lethal anger! And for the record, they charged us $1.89 (cheapest drink there) for a flimsy bottle of spring water (did it come from a spring? WE DON’T THINK SO!)
We hopped on another bus (HAIL TO PITT…’s free bus passes), sitting near a woman with a beard and dreadlocks down to her gluteus maximus. We decided to try out Aladdin’s Eatery in Squirrel Hill.
As soon as we walked in, first thing we saw was a display case of heavenly desserts (We wanted that cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake….). We were seated (guess where?) right in the line of vision of the case of heavenly desserts. Our waitress came out with the menu and a WINE LIST…but unfortunately, we’re not of age.
For the meals we ordered, we were given the choice between a garlic sauce and a Tahini yogurt dressing. Of course, being food whores, we wanted to try both. Our waitress, E was nice enough to let us sample both without any additional charges. The food took a while to arrive and during the wait, E brought out a warm basket of pita bread. It was good pita bread, but nothing to dip it with. We were starving, so we just nibbled on the plain pita bread. It would be nice if the pita came with a little bit of their world famous humus (they claimed).
Z ordered the “Mediterranean Lamb Plate” ($13.95) –tender strips of marinated char-grilled lamb, served with seasoned white rice with vermicelli, sautéed pine nuts, almonds and a hint of cinnamon (according to the menu). The lamb was cooked very well—just right and not overcooked. It was tender, juicy and full of flavor. The cinnamon really enhanced the flavor of the dish—it was subtle and just right, not overpowering. The presentation was appetizing and everything was just perfect.
V ordered the “Aladdin’s Famous Combo” plate ($13.45)—with beef kafta, shish kabob, chicken tawook, served on a bed of seasoned white rice with vermicelli, mixed greens, slice tomatoes and cucumbers. The beef was wonderful and well cooked. The chicken was okay, nothing extraordinary. The SHISH KABOB was the shizz! The seasoning was so unique and with every bite there was an explosion of flavors! The vermicelli with the rice also added a special kick to the dish.
Out of the two sauces we tried, we decided we liked them both equally. The garlic sauce was good but almost too difficult to eat because it was extremely garlicky and zesty—shocking our taste buds. It was DELICIOUS, but not something you can eat a lot of. The yogurt sauce on the other hand was a lot more laid back. It tasted like lemon yogurt, but not like the dessert yogurt most people think of. It was subtle and different.
With the desserts display case right in front of us, it was hard to resist the temptation....
Z ordered the “traditional baklava” (there were 4 types). It was wonderfully rich—dripping with honey and filled with layers and layers of walnuts… buttery goodness melting in our mouths. Everything was consistent—the right flakiness, buttery-ness, moisture and sweetness (though slightly too sweet). ($1.25)
V ordered the “chocolate mocha bomb” multilayers cake. It was orgasmic. The layers of mocha mousse and chocolate cake just blended together so perfectly. The outer shell was drizzled in sweet sweet sweet chocolate and sprinkled with coffee beans.
Overall, our experience at Aladdin’s was wonderful. We highly recommend this place to those who are interested in trying some Lebanese/ Middle Eastern dishes. The portion was a bit small (and this is coming from two PETITE girls) and the price was bit on the pricier side (from the broke-azz college students’ point of view), but we must also consider the fact that they’re serving beef and lamb…which are not the cheapest meat.
On a scale of 1-10, Aladdin’s Eatery received a 7.5 from V&Z.