Afify's restaurant settles disputes about the best Mediterranean food. It's here.
When it comes to Mediterranean food, it’s OK to argue. Where do stuffed grape leaves originate? Greece? Syria? Is falafel made with chick peas or fava beans? Is a Mediterranean diet the most healthy? These and other burning arguments can get heated among Mediterranean chefs. But Chef Youssef Salameh has come to Anthem from Lebanon (via Boston), bearing some answers.
Afify’s Mediterranean Cafe, named after Salameh’s mother who taught him authentic Lebanese cooking, serves freshly made, flavorful versions of the most popular recipes: Falafel, hoummos, tabbouleh, as well as daily specials that will certainly be foreign to those who don’t veer from the drive-thru. The dishes are delicious enough, healthy enough and inexpensive enough to add to your weekly, even daily diet. But let’s settle some arguments…
A traditional salad made with bulghur wheat, finely chopped parsley and tomatoes; the proportions of these ingredients are hotly debated by chefs of different regions. The argument, though, is over. Afify’s tabbouleh has the perfect texture, an intoxicating but subtle blend of spice and the irresistible tang of lemon and olive oil. Just order two.
Mashed chick peas with tahini, a sesame paste with a strong nutty flavor. Too little and you can’t taste the tahini. Too much and your hoummos resembles peanut butter. How much tahini should go into hoummus? This much. And what happened to hoummus when it crossed the ocean? It somehow lost its zing. And gained a bunch of designer ingredients like roasted red peppers taking it far from it’s roots. Like a blonde in Beirut, not quite right. Hoummus at Afify’s is the real deal; garlic, lemon, smooth.
The Egyptian hamburger. Middle Eastern fast food. The national dish of Israel. Is it made with chick peas or fava beans? In Egypt, its fava. In Israel, strictly chicks. At Afify’s it’s a combination of both forming a delightfully crispy ball that yields an aromatic, fluffy core. The perfect base to contrast with cool salad and a drizzle of tahini in a pita for a fast satisfying lunch. Come to Afify and find out why entire nations happily live on this stuff.
Walnut or pistachio? Syrup or honey? The sticky, rich desert is ground nuts sandwiched by layers of crispy philo dough. And we’re not sure what Salameh does to it to make this version so good, but it is, hands down, the best ever. No kidding. And he knows it. You can tell by his smile when he watches someone who knows baklava take a bite. Stop yourself at one.
5. Eat it everyday
Worried how your new daily stop at Afify’s will effect your weight? A recent study compared a Mediterranean diet with a low-fat diet (based on the recommendations of the American Heart Association) and a low-carb diet (based on Atkins).
“We saw a reduction in weight in all three diets,” said Iris Shai, RD, PhD, the study’s lead author. “But we saw that other diet strategies, which are higher in fat proportions, like the Mediterranean diet, and the low-carb diet, even result in an increase in weight loss and improvement in blood lipids and blood glucose measurements.”
So that argument is settled. There is just one debate left to settle: Should baba ghanouj be made with tahini or mayonnaise? Don’t worry, Salameh assures us it will be on the menu soon. io
Contact the writer at nadine [at] ioanthem.com. For more on this and other local restaurants,
If You Go
Afify’s Mediterranean Cafe
4220 W. Summit Walk Court
11 a.m.–9 p.m.