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kebab cafe problem

The first couple of times I went to KC for dinner, I had a great experience...the food, the vibe, Ali, etc. but the last few times I've gone, I've been struck with some sticker shock by the end of the meal. This is because I've almost exclusively ordered from what he is serving special that day. He doesn't usually announce the prices and I hate having to ask for each one (ie "oh, that sounds great..what does it cost?") Now I know most folks say to only really order from the stuff he tells you...but is there stuff on the menu worth trying? maybe it's better to go for a lighter lunch? As I've just moved to Astoria, I would like to give it another chance because I love the vibe of the place. any advice would be greatly appreciated...

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  1. yes, there is plenty on the menu worth trying, as in pretty much everything. i don't have a copy of the menu in front of me, but when we go, we order a mixture of specials and menu items.

    1. I don't understand what's so hard or intimidating avout asking what specials cost anywhere -- whether it's at a four-star fine-dining establishment or at Kabab Cafe. But incidentally, when I used to live in the neighborhood I remember many of the specials used to cost $17 or so, and they're probably a bit more now. Fresh fish, veal tail, good lamb, etc. are gonna cost more than chicken, skirt steak or falafel.

      It's really okay. Ali is not going to be offended if you ask how much a special costs. And in the meantime, the stuff on the menu is equally terrific for what it is. The babaghanouj is wonderful, the foul fantastic. The general 'hound recommendation to go with specials and whatever's in the fridge is because.. well.. the only way you'll find anything like them is to become good friends with a very skillful, well-traveled Egyptian grandmother.

      1. Err... I know you say don't like to ask, but wouldn't that be better than avoiding a restaurant you love?

        1. Tummyache, I felt the same way after paying $14 for 4 pumpkin ravioli drowning in sauce with no accompanying anything. Sure they were good, but I also don't appreciate his bringing you bottled water without asking which kind of "water" you meant, and making you pay for it. Although one SHOULD ask how much the specials are and one SHOULD speak up about the water, one SHOULD also feel like they can trust their host. I don't understand what makes Ali different from tourist trap restaurants in Manhattan that charge twice as much for their specials as their regular offerings. I go there every once in a while, but even though it is tasty and fun, I always leave feeling just a little bit like a chump.

          1 Reply
          1. re: melon

            The responsibility of asking prices is on the diner. It's not like you're going to his house and asking how much the lamb cost. It's a commercial transaction - you give him money, he gives you food. Lots of other places don't give specials prices either. I always make a point of asking for the price of anything that piques my interest.

          2. My problem with KC lately is not the money ... Ali seems so DOWN! I think this blackout/brownout really took some wind out of his sails. He's such a jolly guy but he seemed so sad the couple of times I went. I think he's genuinely hurting, economically, folks. So the moral is - eat there and ask the price - then pay it...

            And keep going!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Monkey Man Jake

              You're correct. The blackout has brought him perilously close to financial ruin. Additionally, he had to scrap his plans for his vacation and he's been busting his ass. So yes Jake you are exactly right. Go often.