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Bahar on CIA - disappointing

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Had a quite disappointing meal at Bahar, the Afghan place on Coney Island Ave on Sat night. We ordered the two premier rice dishes, Kabuli Pulow and Naranj Pulao. The Kabuli Pulow was not composed - it was just a big mound of brown basmati with lightly sauteed raisins and carrot strips on top and a decent lamb korma served on the side - not layered in- the carrots were not zizzled and caramelized, there were no whole spices, nuts, herbs -
when I mixed the thing together it was satisfying flavorwise but there was no spark to the presentation.
The naranj pulow was did not contain any of the advertised nuts or any spices and was an overly sweetened and somewhat greasy mix of the same brown basmati and orange peels. Pieces of meat were served on the side without any sauce - husband said the meat was tasty, but this was hardly a festive dish.
We also had the kebab sampler - recipient thought some of the meats might have been pre-prepared and reheated for serving. Agains served on a huge mound of basmati , no herbal garnishes
mantu, beef stuffed dumplings, were much to large (no delicacy to this presentation) and very bland - it really needed the yogurt sauce which, by the way lacked any fresh garlic savor. The pumpkin fritters were HUGE and had a very large amoun, really too much, of rich, spiced pumpkin. they tasted very good, especially with the yogurt, but again, they lacked the delicacy of the original - they were very heavy.
The vegetable side included portions of three dishes, spinach, okra and eggplant. Not bad but bland and too much alike - no flavor and spice.

None of the dishes had any herbs or garnish, none had any whole spices evident, or indeed much spicing in flavor. The bottom line is that the food is still quite satisfying in a basic way and good value for money (huge portions) but not worth a visit if you are looking for distinct, delicious afghan food.

Front of house staff was hispanic. I have to wonder whether the cook has moved on to another location or whether the place was sold. It was much better a couple of years ago, when the host was an afghan and it looked like they were set up for major grilled meat production in the back (no more)

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  1. I agreeā€”it has really slipped. I live nearby and used to order takeout pretty regularly. NOt any more. Every dish we used to get is less good now than it used to be. (Chicken kebab, the pumpkin fritters, the non-fried scallion dumplings, the eggplant.) Oh well. It is sad to lose a good local place. I tend to get delivery, so not sure about the identity of the staff/owners now vs. before.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gnosh

      We were eating leftovers tonight - it was savory and tasty, but just nothing special. None of the food was the sort that required immediate preparation, so we were wondering whether maybe it was pre-prepared and just assembled there . Maybe the real cook is off at some other Bahar. Really too bad. Our friend though the chicken kebab had been previously cooked and just rewarmed. I dont want to slam this place too much since its still a decent meal, but Im just so disappointed.

    2. We ordered takeout from here last week and I have to agree--passable and OK in a pinch, but much better during the Taliban era.
      So where does one go on CIA these days? I like Taci's Beyti and still think Sahara is a fun place to go with a big group. But do you frequent any other places that I, as a local, ought to know about?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Poindexter

        I like Medina, on the corner of CIA and Beverley. They expanded recently, adding a dining room, though I've only ever gotten takeout. It is still steam table, but everything I've had has been quite delicious. Among the dishes I've tried are various chickpea concoctions (all good) a mixed vegetable curry-ish thing, lots of other veggies, those tube-shaped chicken sausages. Samosas were tasty, but kind of thick-skinned and heavy. A woman who appears to be the mom makes good nan to order in a clay-oven. They have keraila occasionally, which I ordered once even though the man behind the counter warned me that Americans don't like it. Much as I wanted to love it, he was right. (At least, this American doesn't like it.) Just too bitter for me. But it did LOOK fresh and lovely.
        I'm not saying this is a destination place, but if you're driving by, worth checking out. Only downside: It's not as cheap as you'd think. Also, everything is hot and spicy, which I like but might be too much for others.

      2. I third (or fourth) the disappointment. I ate there a month ago and thought it was really lacking. Nothing like the excellent meal I had there a year or so ago.
        Service was super unfriendly too. Too bad.
        My lastest fave on CIA is The Schnitzel King. More of a take out place than sit-down (although there are tables), but they make a nice chicken sandwich with lots of things to put on top (hummus, tahina, carmelized onions, eggplant, pickles, etc.)

        3 Replies
        1. re: HankyT

          Cool. And where does the Schnitzel King hold court (cross street)? Also, have you been to "Medina," a new or at least newly remodelled Indian/Pakastani place on CAI and Beverley? I noticed it on my ill fated run to Bahar and wish I had tried it, as it was bright and clean looking and busy.

          1. re: Poindexter

            Medina is the place I posted about right above you. (Our posts must have crossed in the internet ether.)

            1. re: gnosh

              Hot & spicy--I'm there in size. Many thanks.

        2. HIs Schnitzel Majesty is between M and N I think. West side of CIA.
          I'll check out Medina right away. I've lived in this hood for almost 3 yrs but still haven't ventured into any of the Bangla/Pakistan restos. This is a great tip.