Twin Cities: Khyber Pass report
My wife and I visited the Khyber Pass Cafe (1399 St Clair Ave St Paul 651-698-5403) for dinner on Friday night. This Afghani restaurant has been open for a decade at least but we had only visited once several years ago.
I can happily report that they were as busy as ever. While we were able to get a table almost immediately, it was one of the last available. The fact that the cafe is located in the fairly liberal Macalester-Groveland neighborhood probably helps explain the continued support.
All in all, our visit was a positive one. The food was richly flavored with layers of spices and quality ingredients. We both ate vegetarian entrees (after my wife pouted me out of having the lamb) and found them quite satisfying. She had the vegetarian "combo" plate with dahl and spinach over rice. I had the special which was spiced roasted squash over basmati rice with a yoghurt sauce. I must admit that the portions were surprisingly small - especially for the price ($9-10 each). Still, I'm normally a carnivore and a big eater and I was satisfied by our meal - not excessively full but not desiring more, either.
Our biggest complaint was that we had to wait almost 45 minutes after ordering for our food to be served. I have a sneaking suspicion that they may have run out of the squash special and baked more. The wait really was inexcusably long. I guess I'll put a positive face on it and say that they must not be scooping their food out of the steam table. Also, the pita bread they serve with the meal is not worthy of the main dishes. It seemed to be mass-market whole wheat pita - the accompanying walnut-cilantro 'chutney' (really more like a sauce) was tasty though.
They have a short, simple wine list which is quite reasonable. It appears that most wine was about 2x retail. We enjoyed a Columbia Crest Merlot for $18.
Ate there last week and largely agree with you kmarshall. Our wait for food (party of four, plus toddler) was also 45 minutes and the portions seemed small (though every time I think that, I automatically think: how American of me, to myself). But richly flavored, obviously not from some steam-table.
I had the same thought about the pita. Also, we went at six on a weeknight and the place was empty, but service slow and they were fairly snotty about the kid. I always feel a touch apologetic about the kid, but the place was empty. Two tables filled off to the side. And he was relatively well behaved. AND we kept him out of the restaurant during the wait.
This is the only mention I found of this restaurant in St Paul. Anyone have an update? I've eaten there more recently than '01 - it was earlier this year (they are now on Grand Av, just east of Snelling) - we were there at luch time and they now have a buffet. I thought some of the items weren't at the level of quality I remember from previous dinner visits. Maybe the buffet is not comparable to a dinner visit?