Mombar and Kabab Cafe after the reviews
- Dave Feldman
Ordinarily, I would have stayed away from a new place right after it was reviewed by New York Magazine and the New York Times both gave it stellar reviews (and Sylvia Carter raved the week before), but curiosity got the best of me. I had to see how Moustafa and Ali were holding up. I went to both on Friday night.
Good news. Both seem to be not just surviving, but thriving. The Kabab Cafe was full from 9:00 - 11:00 p.m., but was firing on all cylinders. No problems whatsoever.
Mombar was packed, but during the time I was there, looked not to be a madhouse. Sure, service is not speedy, part of the pleasure of the place is relaxing and enjoying the space.
Best of all, Moustafa is still spending time with every patron. Moustafa's sister is helping out. Moustafa and Fakia both look tired, but obviously proud of their accomplishments.
I *would* call for a reservation at Mombar, though. Moustafa said there are many parties booked in the next four weeks or so.
And one big caveat. The new air conditioning unit, as of today, was down. If it's important to you, I'd check and make sure that the AC is working.
And FWIW, the sand shark of Ali's tonight ruled.
Dave--you glanced right by something. Yes, their sister is in from Egypt. DID YOU TRY HER DESSERTS??????
Egyptian Grandma (the late mom of Mustafa and Ali) didn't bake better. These desserts are worth a 100 mile drive.
They're not ready for prime time; she's not baking quantity yet (not sure if she will). Go to Ali's and beg to try 'em (at Mustafa's, it's more complicated since he's still baking, too).
I had a plate the other night that was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten.
Strangely, this is the sister who DOESN'T run a bakery in Egypt. But she bakes better than the pro sister.
re: Jim Leff
Even without his sister's aid, Ali is a magician with desserts. On a recent visit before her arrival, my dining companion and I could not decide upon a single dessert, so Ali brought us a plate with small portions of three different selections. As I savored I was just so...moved by the grace, skill and overall CARE that was put into each of these (sadly, such a rarity at many restaurants) that I just started welling up and began to cry a little.
When Ali came over to see how everything was, I told him with glistening eyes that his confections had made me cry. "It's all done with love, my dear," said he.
I have such a food crush on that man.
re: Kat Kinsman
It's hard to think of another restaurant where the personality of the chef has such a direct impact upon your enjoyment. Sure, the soul of a chef resonates in his or her food. But at Kabab Cafe, you get the food AND Ali's good humor and passion for food and laughter.
And in their own way, Moustafa and Fakia work their own wonders a few doors down. I was so impressed to see that even with the post-review crunch, Moustafa was still visiting every single table to talk to guests.
You are unlucky to be treated to the company of the creators at Mesa Grill or Daniel.