Lunch with Louie at the Abdis
Santa Barbara food reviews with Louie the pessimist food critic
Apr 21, 6:23 PM (PT)
How about a little change? Let’s go to the Middle East. After all, that’s all we are being served lately (not exactly in the way we like to have it delivered). But, it’s Middle East almost 24 hours a day after all.
What made me decide on Abdi’s was the fact that it’s listed under Persian. In other words, Iranian, and the way they describe themselves in a local ad: “Experience the Silk Road through our quintessential Persian cuisine. Travel past the moon and swing around the Sun; go back in time and experience the cuisine during the time of One Thousand and One Tales that Scheherazade told about the Magical Flying Persian Carpet, Aladdin and Sinbad.” Wow, that’s quite a statement. I am going! I remember being so young and putting myself to sleep pretending to be Tony Curtis or maybe Burt Lancaster riding in the desert on my white stallion on my way to rescue my princess from the evil doers. By the time the princess was to make her entrance, I was usually fast asleep. Not a bad way of going to sleep, by the way.
Located at 30 W. Anapamu, Abdi’s is kind of a new face in the tough Santa Barbara restaurant scene, but one can see there are good intentions behind the entire operation. The tables and chairs are first class and very attractive; the cooking area denotes nothing but the best as far as equipment is concerned. Overall, the place could be warmed up a little bit: it’s a little too stark for my taste.
The place when we arrived was empty, 12 midday, but it got a little busy after that; still with one waitress and a cook; their expectations were clearly not very optimistic.
We ordered a chicken shish kebab and barbecued salmon. Both came with a salad and the salmon also came with a side order of very perfumed rice. After the salad we had a bowl of soup that we shared, Persian Ohsh, a blended mixture of mint, herbs and vegetables with a few lentils and beans navigating in the current. It was very, very green, with a suspicious look to it. It came to us, shall we say, tepid or maybe just cold. After a couple of spoonfuls, we abandoned the Ohsh and concentrated on the rest of our lunch.
The salad was outstanding: lettuces combined with an array of vegetables, cucumbers, celery, julienne of carrots, garbanzo beans and so on. The house dressing was exceptional. The salmon came barbecued to perfection and very simple and true to its natural taste. And, the chicken kebabs were absolutely phenomenal, probably marinated and then barbequed; they were tender and flavorful, a total delight. So, some cons but mostly pros; including the price at $8.50 for either dish – an absolute bargain.
The curse of the cell phone ding-bat continues to follow me as the two women sitting next to me were babbling away on their cell phones from the moment they sat down; food didn’t help this time, blah, blah, blah, and for some reason every time one of them pronounced the word ‘marketing’, the volume increased by about 40%. The entire restaurant had to know that she was into some form of marketing. It was pitiful, irritating and above all, very disturbing. HELLO! I’m trying to eat here, girlfriend!
The menu at times seems a little confusing, but in other ways, kind of interesting and refreshing. Middle Eastern food, coffee blends, fruit smoothies and a very complete coffee bar are all included. There are lots of vegetarian dishes, and some vegan too. They are open for dinner only on Friday and Saturday, but some of the items on the dinner menu sound really great – like the Fesenjeu, a chicken with a sauce of pomegranates and a roasted lamb shank that is so hard to find these days.
They also have Turkish coffee, Armenian coffee and Arabic coffee. I don’t know what the difference is, but welcome it anyway. They don’t sell wine, but there is no charge for corkage; next time, a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck, and I am on my way to Abdi’s for some lamb shank. Let’s give this guy a hand. He has good stuff and he sure tries hard.
My white stallion is rearing with anticipation, so I’d better be on my way. My princess is waiting to be rescued; and as I am riding through the desert, the wind in my face, all I can think is – this time the evil doers will get what they deserve, and I am getting so, so sleepy. Good night from Louie.
I agree, I agree, I agree! I have been to Abdi's several times and can only say that the food has been exceptional every time. I can't believe more people have not discovered it. Abdi is a charming, delightful man who is dedicated to healthy, fresh, and flavorful food. I applaud your review and hope more people see it, I would hate to see him have to close due to lack of patronage and interest. - a recent transplant from the Big Apple
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