Monday, January 31, 2011

Gorgeous George's @ Seattle

If you have been reading my blog, my love for Middle Eastern food, especially for Mediterranean Kitchen (MK) must be quite evident. But, once in a while, I like to try different Middle Eastern restaurants and compare them to MK. And so, for lunch on Saturday, Yelp reviews were scouted and Gorgeous George's was picked for two reasons. One, the owner / Chef George is Middle Eastern. So, the food must be authentic. And two, the rave reviews about the hospitality made us believe it would be a great dining experience all together. We were not wrong. The food and George, both were gorgeous!

So, we got there with rumbling stomachs, at 11:30 am on Saturday, to find the restaurant closed. George came to the door to tell that lunch was from noon to 2:30 pm. Oh boy. We had half an hour to kill. It was raining, so walking up and down Greenwood Ave was not a very pleasing idea. On top that, we had got a good parking spot which we would lose if we drove around and came back later. So we chose to remain in the car.

We went back again at noon and they were open. The waitress showed us to a table by the window, brought our menus and water. The water had a slice of cucumber floating it in, making it very refreshing. I have had water with the standard lemon wedge that usually makes me gag, but this was much better! It just shows that they care about every little thing. The restaurant is fairly small, not more than 25 people can dine at one time. There was the usual "Habibi..." song playing in the background and I could even hear George singing along, in the kitchen.

Gorgeous George's
The waitress brought a complimentary plate of their famous Hummus. I am not sure if it is complimentary at all times; I think they gave it out of courtesy because we had to wait for thirty minutes. Whatever, the Hummus was so beautifully plated that I didn't want to ruin it by digging into it. It was shaped like a volcano with a crater in the middle, filled with olive oil and drizzled with sumac and other herbs.

Hummus @ Gorgeous George's
It was not as garlicky as the MK's Hummus. In fact, it was not as lemony as well. But, it was of a kind and was delicious. May be that's how they make it in Palestine, which is where George is from. The pita bread was fatter than the the usual ones I have had. It was more like Naan, again, may be specific to the Palestinian region. I tore the pita, scooped some hummus and shamelessly licked the Olive oil dripping from my fingers. It was sooo good!!

Hummus and Pita @ Gorgeous George's
George came out to take our orders. A asked him if he could make a Veggie Shawarma, but he said, "I have only one veggie - Falafel". Oh well, we'll have the Falafel, we said, a tad disappointed. We also asked for Zahara, the appetizer. The Zahara and the Falafel were brought out at the same time. One look at the food and we knew it was going to be awesome.

Zahara (Fried Cauliflower Topped with a Light Tahini Saucewas good. The cauliflower was brown and crispy, it lacked a little salt, but we sprinkled some from the salt and pepper shaker kept on our table. The tahini sauce was sparingly used.  Despite the qualms, it was still dellicious. MK gives a bigger portion of Zahara for the same cost, doesn't need any salt and is smothered lavishly in Tanihi sauce. There, I said it.

Zahra @ Gorgeous George's
Next, the Falafel episode. The Falafel (Vegetarian balls made of Chickpeas and Veggies Fried until Golden Brown Topped off with Tahini Sauce) plate came with four pieces of Falafel balls, a salad with a mint basil dressing with mango and papaya, that tasted fantastic (Note, MK doesn't make this ;-) ), basmati rice cooked with peas and a cup of Labnie. We suddenly remembered that the platter comes with the choice of a soup or salad. But he didn't ask us what we wanted. Usually the soup or salad is served first and then the platter is brought out. But we didn't get any, so assumed that George had forgotten about it. We asked him if it came with a soup and he said yes, he would bring it right away. In two minutes, he came with a bowl of steaming hot lentil soup, that was thick and delicious.

Lentil Soup @ Gorgeous George's
He also mentioned that he was giving us the soup on top of the salad. It then hit us that he was talking about the salad in the Falafel platter. But, we never asked for the salad. Am not sure how he decided to serve the salad over the soup, without asking our preference.

Falafel Platter @ Gorgeous George's
 Anyway, the Falafels were good too. Crunchy on the outside and soft inside. The dressing on the salad was out of this world. But here's the other qualm. There is a split charge of $3.95, which is not justified. You share an entree with someone else and you have to pay for it? Why? They don't give a bigger helping just because you are sharing. It is the same sized entree. I know MK at Bellevue charges a splitting cost, but that is justified. They give two soups, unlimited pita bread and the garlic dip. Gorgeous George's doesn't give any of this, yet doesn't fail to charge the splitting cost. Um hm...not very happy about that.

In the end, we ordered the Pistachio Walnut Baklava, that sure looked and tasted absolutely toothsome.

Baklava @ Gorgeous George's
We walked out of GG feeling content. The great food and amazing service made it a helluva dining experience. George is a very gracious host and was frequently checking on us, asking us if everything was OK. It was only when we started comparing it with MK did we realize that MK is more value for money. MK gives bigger portions for the same price, service is good, uses more garlic, uses sauces generously, justifies the split charge by giving unlimited pita and garlic sauce and an extra bowl of soup. And, they make Veggie Shawarma, though it is not listed on the menu.

So, yes MK is still at the top of the list.

NOTE :- This review is specific to Vegetarian Entrees only.

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