Ohhh man. If I could eat one thing every single day, I’d probably choose hummus. Yes, hummus over chocolate. You read that right. I’m a sucker for a lusciously creamy hummus that’s so smooth it seems like a sin. One of my foodie friends here and I both have a love for Mediterranean food, so that’s usually our go-to cuisine when we eat together.
I had read oodles of glowing reviews for Cafe Barada in Cambridge, and after a Boston–>Charleston friend highly recommended it too, I knew I had a winner. After a killer spin class at Turnstyle last night, my buddy Mick and I made moves to North Cambridge for a phenomenal meal.
The two of us are trouble together; we both think of eating as a sport and it’s like a competition as to who can stuff themselves more. He always wins but I’d like to think I can put up a good fight. Any time we’ve eaten together, we usually share a bunch of apps so we can try a lot of items. Tonight wasn’t very different as we chose the family style option for a little bit of everything.
Our starter plates were hummus and baba ghannouj with stuffed grape leaves. I usually find that hummus is either thick and somewhat gritty or lusciously creamy. Cafe Barada makes the latter. It was so light that it was almost fluffy. Wonderful. Baba ghannouj is a tricky one, prepared so many ways depending on the region the chef is from. It can be chunky, where you actually see bits of the eggplant, or whipped similarly to hummus. This was the first baba ghannouj that I’ve ever liked. It was amazing! I couldn’t stop eating it.
We also had fattoush — a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, parsley, crunchy pita bread and spices. I loved this too! It definitely had sumac in it, which is a really lovely tart spice.
And then came the meat plate. Protein overload. It consisted of chicken shish kebab, beef shish kebab, and kafte kebab (ground beef with parsley & onion) all over a plate of buttery rice pilaf and grilled veggies.
Wow. The kafte was my favorite, followed by the chicken. The grilled squash was sweet and buttery and the tomatoes juicy. I really enjoyed slathering baba ghannouj all over the meats, while Mick preferred making mini wraps with the pita bread and hummus.
We were stuffed to the brim–well, I was but Mick kept going–when our server reminded us we still had dessert. I almost opted to take mine home but Mick wasn’t having it, saying it would be better enjoyed in the restaurant. Ha. I told him I would love to be eating this on my couch in yoga pants, but I settled since I was…still in yoga pants. The baklava was unreal.
If you’ve never had baklava, do yourself a favor and find some. If it’s made right, it’s crazy good. This Turkish pastry is made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey. Yeah, let that sit for a minute.
I know I still am. I’m currently sprawled out on my couch still stuffed to the brim from all this amazing food. I live 1/2 a mile from Cafe Barada so I’m anxious to go back. And often.
Favorite Mediterranean cuisine/dish? I love Turkish, Lebanese, and Israeli dishes most. Aside from my obsession with hummus, I really love shawarma (I eat it at least once a week!), ful medames, and shaksuka, and falafel.