Dining out: House of Kabob

Published: Friday, Sept. 29 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

I think I may have caught House of Kabob at a bad time.

I've heard a couple of people say how much they like this downtown Persian/Turkish/Greek eatery, and though it's on Main Street, it's a bit undiscovered. So we marched the kids downtown on a recent Saturday afternoon to give it a try.

Maybe it was the time, sort of between lunch and dinner. Maybe it was what we ordered, though we asked our server for recommendations. But though nothing was bad, and several items were very good, our experience at House of Kabob didn't quite rise to the level I expected, given what I'd heard and read.

Things certainly started off well. Our first appetizer, the baba ghanooj, was delicious, a light dip of tahini, eggplant and yogurt with plenty of earthy, rich, even olive-bitter flavors to deepen its creamy flavor. We scooped it up with the accompanying just-crisped pita wedges, though we could have used a few more.

The second appetizer, the Greek classic spanakopita, was limp and bland compared to the crisp, lively pastry triangles I've had at places like Ogden's Athenian and elsewhere. But it did arrive with a super-fresh pool of yogurt and cucumber sauce.

Several of us had salads with our meals, and they were simple, fresh and crisp, with dressings (blue cheese and the house vinaigrette) that tasted homemade. Other members of the family had the curried chicken-noodle soup, a twist on the classic with mild curry flavor, golden chicken pieces, sliced squash and lots of macaroni.

For dinner, the kids shared two portions of chicken souvlaki with lemon rice. The chicken, golden with spices, was not particularly well seared but was juicy and fragrant, if a little less lean than I like. The rice, bright yellow, had little, if any, taste of lemon and tasted a bit overcooked.

Much better was the basmati rice that accompanied my broiled seafood kabob: fresh, firm and nutty grains that were a pleasure to eat either alone or with the delicious kabob. This dish is a must for seafood fans: two long kabobs of broiled salmon, scallops and shrimp, with peppers and onions skewered with them.

I knew I'd like the salmon (flaky and tender) and shrimp (sweet and beautifully seared), but the scallops were a revelation: nicely sized, sweet and silky-textured, they were seasoned simply so that their quality shone.

My husband had the server-recommended steak-and-chicken kabobs, one skewer of each meat. The chicken was delicious and perfectly seasoned, and the steak was juicy and meaty, if a bit chewy.

I sort of wish we'd skipped dessert or gone down the street to grab a couple of the Chilean Deli's dulce de leche pastries. We had perfectly serviceable cheesecake and baklava, but that's all it was. The plain cheesecake was creamy and sweet but not memorable, and the baklava's normally flaky and distinct layers tasted welded together, as if the pieces had spent a lot of time in a refrigerator.

Appetizers $3-$7.50, soups $3-$3.50, salads $3-$7.50, sandwiches $5.50-$6.50, entrees $7.50-$16, desserts $3.50.

Rating: ** 1/2

Where: 268 S. Main

Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Saturday, noon-11 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 521-4442

Wheelchair access: Easy


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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