Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ottawa Eats: Naji's Lebanese Restaurant

What's better than a spontaneous dinner date before a night out to the theatre? An amazing spontaneous dinner date that fulfills a craving that you've had for months, and that's discounted through Groupon, that's what! There's been a new Lebanese restaurant in the neighbourhood that I've been wanting to try since it moved in months ago and today was the day.

Naji's is a wonderful little place right by Bank Street and Second Avenue that has just brought a whole new world of flavour to the Glebe. Apparently, I have to come to terms with the reality that there is a compartment in my stomach dedicated purely to digesting falafels, and since it's been about a month since I had any, it was time to replenish its stock. Conveniently, right in time for out date night, I found a Groupon for Naji's and I was sold.

Though I didn't get any good pictures of the inside of the place, it was really nice; warm colours, really simple but classy decor, and it smelled delicious. We didn't need much time with the menus because I had checked it out  at home, and aside from salads, there were only a couple options for us. Our appetizer:
Baba Ghanoush 
served with pickled radish and warm pita bread

It's eggplant. You can't go wrong with eggplant, but this baba ghanoush was particularly tasty. I actually found that everything we ate tonight was really well spiced and seasoned, which I often really miss. Once again, I come from two culinary backgrounds that are pretty serious when it comes to flavour; and that being said, unfortunately, here in Ottawa, when it comes to vegan options at least, bold flavour is something that's actually often pretty lacking. I don't know if taste buds die in very cold temperatures, but it's true...
Our main dish: The Falafel Platter
Falafel wrap with pickled cabbage and seasoned potatoes

Falafels, oh, falafels, how I love thee, but these were exceptional. The only falafels I've ever had that were tastier than these were the ones from the infamous Amsterdam Falafel in Adams Morgan in DC.

When my plate came this evening, I had no idea that there was a whole falafel wrap tucked into that tin foil. Andrew laughed at me, but hey, maybe it was a giant Christmas popper... that would have been pretty neat, but no, it was one giant wrap filled with veggies, pickled cabbage and falafels. Once again, it was fantastically seasoned. The wrap was also perfectly prepared to warm, soft, yet toasted perfection. Even the seasoned potatoes were delicious, they were at ideal crunchiness levels with parsley, lemon, spices, and just the right amount of salt.

The portions were really generous. I really wanted to finish my wrap so I had to donate half my potatoes to Andrew. As far as I could see from the people around us, the meat dishes are pretty substantial too. For anyone in Ottawa, I definitely recommend this place. The food, atmosphere, and service were all fantastic.

I'm pleased to say that I think I've found a permanent place that will be fulfilling all my falafel needs in Ottawa.

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