Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Appetuesdays: Hummus and Baba Ghanouj

You'll notice our new poll this week ask what is the best hummus in Wichita. As hummus fans, we thought it'd be cool to try out some new hummus. We didn't want a full dinner such something light and easy. Take a break from Dining By The Alphabet and just have a nice conversation over what we call "Appetuesdays".

So for our Appetuesdays spot, we selected N&J Cafe. A place both of us have never been too. Our plan was simple, just order a couple appetizers, eat, chat, people watch and call it a night.

Upon entering in, the place was BUSY! For its location on the southeast side of town (literally adjacent to Southeast High School), we were surprised how busy they were. Didn't know if we were to seat ourselves so we had to ask the main guy at the cashier station. You do. So we grabbed a booth and waited for a server. Service was a wee bit slow. Noticed there were really only two servers for as busy as they were. The servers worked their tails off but restaurants should be staffed properly. We didn't gripe about it but one guy behind us sure did. I think the term best to describe him throughout the night is "asshole". Seriously a guy who was griping about everything, entered in, a table wasn't bussed yet, so he bussed it himself and ended up dropping an entire glass of water on the ground and left it there, then asked for a server wanting to order, changed his mind and needed more time, complained about waiting for a server. You know those types of customers.

So yeah, service could have been quicker. Anyhoo, we decided to order a large hummus and a small baba ghanouj with one walnut baklava (to my credit I pronounced it correctly). We've never had baba ghanouj. One of the servers at Cafe Bel Ami suggested it, called it hummus made with eggplant instead of chickpeas. We kept it in the back of our mind for the future. I've never had baklava so we ordered their walnut baklava, only $1.25, tiny little pastry. The hummus and baba ghanouj (I'm telling you that's a hard word to spell, I have spelled it wrong everytime I tried to type it) came in two sizes, small and large and run around $4-5 depending on the size.

Hummus and its ugly stepsister, baba ghanouj


Both apps came with pita bread and pita chips. You'll notice the sizes look the same in the picture that's because the server took our order wrong. She thought we ordered both larges. Kind of upset about it because I didn't want a large order of baba ghanouj in case we didn't like it. We told her and she just looked at us. Some places may have offered it at the small size rate, some would have taken it back, she honestly just stood there and looked at us. So I let it slide since it was only a dollar difference but even an apology would have been nice.

We took bites of each and Tiffany immediately nixed the baba ghanouj calling it gross or as she now calls it "Baba Gross". I had my first bite and was seriously intrigued by the flavor. Wasn't sure if I liked it or not, so I tried again..... and again..... and again.... and again.... and again. To this moment I can quite pinpoint what it tastes like. At some points it taste like a bad chunky salsa, other times it tastes bland, other times weird. It does have a very smokey taste to it. It wasn't great but then against it wasn't horrible. Just is what it is. Tiffany refused the rest of the night to try it again. Our server came by and even said she wasn't a fan. The hummus on the other hand was good. Compared to Cafe Bel Ami, Tiffany says N&J's doesn't have as much flavor as Bel Ami. She said N&J put way too much oil in it and that I have to write the following "You better agree cause when you had a bite of that oil you made that "ughhhhhhh" face." So I do agree. There were spots of hummus where the color just changed completely. I've heard many people say that N&J has the best hummus in Wichita. Just not sure I feel the same way. Tiffany still believes Bella Luna is the place to beat. So that's where the bar has been set.

Tomorrow's word of the day: Baklava
As for the baklava, not sure I like it. Tasted kind of dry to me but Tiffany said it was pretty moist. Maybe its just me not being a big fan of desserts or maybe i'll just have to try it again. She liked it, me...still on the fence. But for only a dollar, great value! They had walnut, pistachio, and almond baklava. The pistachio's were all gone when we were there so that maybe the most popular option. I may grab some at random next time i'm in the area. I like that word though, baklava. Its so fun to say, not so much type. Baklava.

After we finished, we asked for a couple to go boxes and our ticket. She brought them out and we put our card out and waited for her to pick it up. While waiting, we decided to walk around the little "grocery store" they have inside the cafe just to see what else they had. Tons of hookah supplies. By the time we got back, our server still hadn't picked up our check. So we just grabbed it and paid up front.

We will probably go back to try this play out in the future. Heard many good things about this place but just honestly didn't get to experience it or see it. Service was a little on the slow side being understaffed. The baba ghanouj was weird, hummus possibly overrated. We won't rate this on our super scientific scale but going into it the next time, its already an uphill battle for N&J Cafe.

We saw some items on the menu that interested us like the combo, kebbe dinner, and the kafta. So when we do get a chance to get a full meal, we'll give a better review on the place.

But for hummus alone, it goes:
1.) Cafe Bel Ami
2.) N&J Cafe

We've had hummus at other places but since the inception of the blog, we're off to a fresh start on rating hummus.

N&J Cafe, you better step your game up for the next time we come in.

7 comments:

Tiffany said...

Baba- GROSS! :o)... i gave it more than the one bite chance!!

Jody said...

N&J is so delicious. You have to give them a second chance

Nicole said...

I hadn't ever had baba ghanouj until I had it at Yia Yia's & I LOVED it. I think it's just like with hummus...sometimes "cheap" hummus has a completely (& worse) taste that high quality hummus.

John said...

Don't like eggplant, so I don't think I'd ever like baba ghanouj.

Anonymous said...

Can ya hear me now? Anyways, I agree that Bella Luna has the best humus. They also have a great steak curry which is strange to say.

David S. said...

N&J is the stuff. You need to go there again, brother. I say mix the hummus and tabouli then slather it on the chicken schwarma. It's an amazing meal.

After having this cuisine on multiple continents and coasts, I still look back at N&J as a great place to grab some chow.

Anonymous said...

Actually baba ghanouj is very good when made right. I've tried many and I have to say M.I.F has the best.