Tuesday, August 5, 2008

El Basha Mediterranean Grill

Restaurant: El Basha Mediterranean Grill
Address: 7503 Pacific St. - In the mini-mall just west of Tires Plus
Website: None
Genres: Mediterranean
Check Constraints: Short order
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: No.

  • Falafel Appetizer ($5.50)
  • Chicken Shawarma Wrap Combo ($7.75)
    • Fries
    • Drink
Work recently has been positively crazy. As a result, the lunch destinations of late have been picked with an eye towards speed, distance, and the most bang for the time - also as a result, we had to skip a week due to an utter and total lack of time. But El Basha is fairly close to where we work, and it's been long enough since AFK that it was judged a worthy destination. I'm rather glad about that.

Despite being short-order, the restaurant is rather intriguing and has plenty of space for people. Their menu seems to pull a good balance between being fast and offering a wide variety of Mediterranean flavors. Unlike AFK, El Basha is far more towards the traditional side of the ethnic restaurant scale - that's not a dig on either restaurant, they both have their upsides and honestly very little downside. It's just a different take on the same kind of cuisine, and all that matters is what suits you the best.

The falafel appetizer came over a salad, dressed with a very thin creamy garlic dressing. That made it a little hard to share anything but the falafel themselves with the rest of the geeks, so I wound up with a heaping helping of salad to start off the meal. It was rather good, and if you were perhaps hunting for a slightly lighter lunch that is where I'd suggest you start. The falafel, while perhaps a little small, were moist and flavorful, and went pretty well with the dressing. I would have preferred the dressing to be a little less watery, perhaps, but sopping it up with the falafel worked pretty well. I'd eat this again, especially if I were trying to be calorie conscious.

Brief comments on the other appetizers: The hummus was far smoother than I am used to, but it was delicious nonetheless. The baba ghanouj had a very sharp taste to it, but was darn tasty as well.

The chicken shawarma wrap came wrapped in foil, which was goobord as it had the garlic dressing inside, and trying to eat it without the foil resulted in a very drippy (if delicious) mess. It had onions inside, and not much else that I could tell, which resulted in a fairly solid if unvarying flavor. Given the option, I'd probably go for the gyro or something a little more interesting next time.

Most importantly, though, the time it took to order, get the food, and eat it was less than an hour by far, which is good for when you're in a crunch but want to avoid "fast food". All in all, I might start suggesting it as a regular destination for meals, even if I did wind up having had a little too much garlic for even my comfort.

  • Hummus Appetizer ($5.50)
  • Gyro Platter ($8.75)
    • Lentil Soup
    • Drink
I'm afraid I don't have much good to say about this one, unfortunately. Luckily, not much outright bad, either. I did not, in fact, understand what hummus was when I ordered it. I actually thought I was getting falafel. What I got was excellent tortilla-thickness pita bread and a bowl of extremely smooth hummus. Cham says that it is good hummus. It was a taste I could take or leave. Not something I'd ever go out of my way to get. The falafel, though, that was good stuff.

The lentil soup appeared to not have a name, but it is very easy to describe. It was quite heavy on the cumin, making it taste like a good chili as a starter. Then, instead of meat and beans in that chili, add potatoes and rice. That is essentially the soup. I ate it, and enjoyed it. Also, it was a damn good size bowl for coming as part of a combo.

The gyro platter came with that funky potato salad, a very sour taste which was not pleasing to me at the time. The gyro was mounded pleasingly high with meat, but the toppings were not on the side, and as I am not a huge fan of the sauce slathered all over it, it was somewhat less appetizing than I would normally find a large pile of good meat (that is to say, om nom nom). As it was, I still nearly finished it, but just couldn't bring myself to take the last few bites.

I really don't think I'd come here again, given a choice, but if you like the more authentic foods from the area, go for it.

  • Beef Shawarma Wrap Combo ($7.50)
    • Fries
    • Drink
Due to the hectic nature of the past couple of weeks, I don't remember an awful lot from this place. Luckily, the beef shawarma is very similar to the chicken shawarma that Cham had. It only had a few things in it with a good amount of beef. The sauce does accumulate at the bottom of the foil, so grab a pile of napkins for those last few bites. It was also fairly filling. The fries didn't stand out one way or the other.

They were actually out of another item that I (and MapleSyrup, I found out later) attempted to order. I forget what it was called. The bit of falafel I had was good and less dry than AFK. I'd eat there again, especially since I'm in the area fairly often. It'd be worth another visit or two to try a few other items.


  • Gyro Platter ($8.75)
    • Lentil Soup
    • Drink
It seems that I ordered the same entree as ND, so there isn't a whole lot for me to add. I wasn't as great of a fan of the lentil soup as he was. It was ok. It wasn't vile. But it isn't something that I'll be getting again. The Gyro Platter came with a big scoop of "mashed potato stuff." We're not sure what it was, but it was delicious. It had a mildly sour taste, reminding me of lime and cilantro. Cham claims there was some sesame oil in there. I could have eaten much more of it than what they gave me. The addicting nature of it kind of reminds me of that of Salt & Vinegar potato chips. The Gyro itself was overflowing with meat and fillings. I barely finished it.


  • Baba Ganoush ($5.50)
  • Gyro Platter ($8.75)
    • Lentil Soup
    • Drink
Talk about busy. Took us a while to even get the review out. Cham nailed the Ganoush (or however it's 'properly' spelled) with being sharp, but also fairly complex. The hummus was incredibly smooth and tasted good, and both had a lot of similar notes, unsurprisingly. The lentil soup I don't remember much of at this point, but I remember liking it quite a bit.

Something I think the others didn't mention about that weird potato-salad-like-thing is that Cham and I think it had sesame flavor/oil in it, making it extremely interesting. I'd never had anything like that that I remember, and it seemed unique for a mediterranean place. The gyro itself had a large amount of meat, and ended up making this all an extremely filling meal.

I have to agree with Cham that the place's speed and flavor makes it a good place for a lunch visit when you actually have to do it in an hour (or maybe even just over a half an hour, if you're close enough), and while it may seem a bit expensive compared to a value meal or whatnot, there's a lot more here than you'll get in a fast food paper bag.


Kris Liedel said...

I truly enjoyed my visit to this place. I went there with a friend who had spent much time in the middle-east, and she told me this was pretty authentic.
I had the beef schwarma (spelling), the falafel, and the lentil soup.
I wanted a little more "something" for the wrap, but it was still filling and tasty.
The soup was wonderful.
I'm going back. And if I still can, I'm renting a hookah- delicious

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