COVID times are making life difficult for all of us. Our local restaurant and beverage purveyors are kept on their toes by updates on “new” procedures, changed frequently. Masks and social distancing measures daunt prospective diners. Muffled conversations with wait staff, when one does get a seat at a table, may hinder communication as to what we’d like to eat.
One must keep a sense of humor when presented with a possible error when plates do arrive at the table. A recent dining adventure provided my hubby and me with a chuckle, when his plate came heaped with an extra portion of the exact item he’d asked to not be added to his dish. No worries, I can be counted on to “eat” any mistakes.
While some seasoned restaurateurs have shuttered their establishments, others press on. I admire our local restaurants, who endeavor to adapt, as rules and regulations fluctuate.
One such restaurant, newly opened in April of this year, is Aleppo Kitchen, located 6815 196th St. S.W., Suite G, in Lynnwood.
The statement from owner Mohamed Bazara — “We are running a family business we started in bad time but we hope we will succeed. We wish we will see you all because with your help we will be successful. Thank you for you all for the support and hope you all doing good and safe” — struck a chord. How brave to launch a new establishment in such turbulent economic times.
A phone call assured me that outdoor dining would be possible, so Restaurant News took a drive to Lynnwood location and enjoyed delicious food “prepared by Syrian hands.”
Turns out that everyone in Mohamed’s family cooks. He says his family — originally from Aleppo, Syria — “ decided to open a restaurant to have business for the family to be able to work together.” They found the restaurant is the “best fit for us because we all know how to cook. All the meals on the menu utilize the family recipes and components are homemade.”
He adds, “This is our first restaurant.” Although he didn’t have any restaurant before, in Syria, he used to work in a restaurant. Mohamed’s “several years of experience” and combined family expertise are evident in the well-executed and perfectly-seasoned dishes that we enjoyed on our visit.
We began our meal with salad and an appetizer plate. I just had to order the falafel too, because, well, it was so darn cute — little doughnut shapes.
Tasting a variety of menu items, this made sense to me, while a bit troubling to my dining companion. He’s been sidelined by COVID and “forgotten” my strategy of “order many entrees, taste and take home remains for further enjoyment.”
Ditto our server, looking at list of food to be delivered to our table. “You know, this is a lot of food!” he advised.
So our salad choice was Fattoush, which was a combination of greens like romaine and arugula, supplemented with mint, sumac, crispy pita chips, and dressed with pomegranate vinaigrette. Delicious and refreshing.
Falafel tasted excellent — I believe they are on to something with the shape. The dipping sauce, tangy and fresh, sealed the deal — will order these again, for sure.
Our mixed plate contained generous servings of hummus, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush, well-anointed with large, delicious olives.
In fact, Every Single Plate arrived at our table decorated with generous amounts of assorted black and green olives and interesting assortments of house-made pickles. Accompanied by slices of warm pita, this was a meal in itself.
Mna’aesh (flat bread) choices included Lahm Bi Ajin, (ground lamb), featuring Aleppo’s chili blend and a pomegranate molasses sauce with herbs. The non-meat choice was a flatbread with Za’atar and mozzarella cheese. Both were delicious — tender bread supported the topping proportions to perfection. Each portion was enough to fill our bellies and walk away sated.
But of course there was more to come… I ordered Lamb Shawarma, which came with fresh warm pita, an assortment of pickles, arugula, more olives, and a sauce that was similar to aïoli.
Shawarma is served cut into individual serving pieces, making it not so cumbersome to try and eat — a nice step in the preparation process.
My husband has fond childhood memories of dining with his Lebanese neighbors, and a dish called Kibbi, which in the Syrian menu translates to Kubba. So… we had to order that.
Kubba are croquettes made of bulgur, and stuffed with seasoned ground lamb. We chose the grilled option, which added a nice dimension — a crispy shell.
All the food was seasoned to perfection. We certainly plan to return to sample other items on menu. My hubby made note of a “lunch special for under $10.”
The restaurant offers family-size meals and below is a picture of an Aleppo plate. This could feed my family for a week.
But wait… there’s more!
Those who dine with me know — it’s all about dessert. I always leave room for the sweet finish of a meal.
Favorable reviews made me eager to taste the baklava. Buttery, flaky, and just the right amount of honey — it lived up to expectations and more. A second dish called Mebrune caught my eye. Thin brushwood roll stuffed with pistachios and other nuts, and soaked in sorbet, just sweet enough to satisfy and left us wishing we’d ordered two portions.
By this point our server joined in on my plan. He enthusiastically recommended I try the featured dessert of the day…Ruz Bihalib. Featuring tender sweet rice, cream and rose water, it arrived with two spoons and not a grain left behind in the empty bowl. Wow.
Beverage choices during COVID mean we did not sample the house-made version of Ayran (a yogurt-milk drink) but the bottled version surprised us with a pleasant yoghurt-and-mint taste. I look forward to Greek coffee and house-made mint lemonade, when COVID beverage restrictions permit.
Restaurants step up to do good deeds, and Aleppo Kitchen pitched in — literally — as they opened their doors.
Here is commentary from Evergreen Health Kirkland, whose staff received a donation from Aleppo Kitchen:
“The Bazara family, originally from Aleppo, Syria, opened the restaurant just days before the COVID-19 crisis swept across WA. With nary an opportunity to get the word out, Aleppo Kitchen, like most dining establishments in WA, is going through a rough patch, and we are so glad to have the opportunity to work with them for tonight’s meal delivery.
Each of the 150 boxes includes chicken shawarma or falafel, rice pilaf, Tabbouleh, hummus and pita.”
The restaurant is a Halal restaurant. For those unfamiliar-the word Halal in Arabic means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed to be consumed under Islamic dietary guidelines. Here is a link to more specific information on Halal
— By Kathy Passage
A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.