Monday, February 19, 2007

Sahara Grill

After my visit to Chinatown, I explored the city a little bit, eventually finding my way back to the Franklin Institute to catch that great Tutankhamun exhibit. It was fabulous! The only thing that disappointed me was that, from the stuff that was posted outside the exhibit, it led me to believe that the actual mummy, or at least physical reconstructions of the ancient boy-king, would be featured in the exhibit. Nope. Just a brief blurb at the end of the exhibit. But it was not a disappointing exhibition at all. There were so many great things shown from Tut's tomb, as well as those of his parents (Akhenaten and Tiye, according to one genealogy and this exhibition), stepparents (Nefertiti) and grandparents. There were canopic jars, chairs, staffs, shabti, busts and so many other great things out the wazoo. At $34, the price can be a wee bit prohibitive, but it will be worth it. It's there until September, so start saving now and go sometime in the next few months.

It seemed only fitting that such an exhibit be followed with some delicious Middle Eastern cuisine. So I headed back to Walnut St. and found the Sahara Grill. In the heart of Philly's "gayborhood" (the gay neighborhood of the city), I had accidentally stumbled upon this place once before. I've never mentioned it before because, well, I couldn't think of the name! Pretty sad, especially for food that was pretty memorable. All I knew was that it was in that area somewhere, so I started roaming around and luckily I found it.

It wasn't too obvious to me that I could seat myself, as the waitresses and all the staff are at the back of this small but lovely restaurant. I got seated by the window and was given a menu. Of course, it took me a while to figure out exactly what to eat. I finally settled on the lamb and beef shawerma, in this case chopped up and laid on top of a flavorful rice with some red onion and grilled vegetables (not many), and accompanied by some yogurt. I ordered a separate order of thick yogurt, labneh, which was covered with a little bit of olive oil and spices.

I had no idea just how much food I had ordered.

First came the labneh, a medium-sized bowl which came either with or at the same time as my salad (just lettuce and tomatoes, but at least none of that nasty iceberg lettuce) and pita. Then came my massive plate of shawerma about five minutes later. It took a while to eat this stuff and about halfway through I just gave up and boxed the rest. I also passed on dessert (they have baklava if you want dessert). I figured the food would survive a two hour drive home in the cold February weather. It must have, because I just finished eating it for lunch, and so far, I am feeling fine and groovy.