REVIEW w/ pics: Skewer Me Happy at Raffi's
I know, I know. The title in my subject header is questionable, but hey, get your mind out of the gutter. We're talking about kabobs here, specifically at Raffi's Place in Glendale. Besides, I thought the title was apropos since I left Raffi's pretty darn happy after my meal. I've been hearing wonderful things about Raffi's for awhile now, so I thought it was finally time to make a visit.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, you can see two distinct dining areas. There's the outdoor patio with an ocean view mural along the side wall and also an smaller inside dining room. I think it would actually have been fun to sit in the patio because it had a lively atmosphere, but it was packed so my group of 8 ended up sitting inside.
Once you get past the small section of salads and appetizers, the rest of the menu is two pages of different types of kabobs. For that night, our meal consisted of hummus, an eggplant dish, a yogurt dish and three different types of kabobs: Shish Kabob (grilled and skewered filet mignon), Chicken Barg (grilled and skewered boneless chicken) and Lamb Kabob (grilled and skewered marinated lamb) as well as dessert.
As we were waiting for our appetizers to arrive, other plates of food came to our table first. Basically, they included a plate of basil, mint, and onion slices flecked with parsley, radishes and imported black olives as well as a basket of squares of unleavened lavash bread and pats of butter. There was also a plate of grilled tomatoes and extremely hot peppers. It's situations like this that it's sometimes a good idea to do some research beforehand. What I found out was that the lavash are actually to be used "Korean BBQ-style" to wrap your meat in with the addition of the various herbs and veggies. It was nice to have that knowledge beforehand so that I can give my dining companions the scoop.
While the apps were quite tasty, the kabobs were the real stars of the show. When it comes to chicken dishes, especially when chicken breast is used, I've found that restaurants don't know how to cook it right. At times, it's pretty dry; however, the chicken kabob was tender, juicy and full of flavor as were the beef and lamb kabobs.
When you add the hand's on eating experience of using the lavash to wrap the various ingredients in before taking a bite, it was really a fun time for everyone. The addition of that raw veggie/herb plate was definitely on the money. What I did that night was tear off pieces of my lavash and along with the kabob meat of my choice and an array of different ingredient combo depending on what I wanted at the time. I'd add the onion or radish for a juicy crunch, the basil for a little kick and/or the mint for a sweet coolness. Occasionally, I'd even spoon a little hummus or eggplant to add something different. I would even add pieces of the grilled tomatoes, but definitely stayed from those green peppers, after taking a stinging bite of it. They were hot!
So far, it was a very satisfying meal, but amazingly enough (or maybe not so amazing since our group had a sweet tooth), we ordered three different types of desserts to share. First, there was the stuffed baklava layered with filo dough drizzled with pistachio and rosewater sugar syrup. The pastry was nice and flaky, but I always find baklava to be too sweet for me and that was the case here. We also tried their Chocolate Raspberry dessert, which was a ball shaped chocolate gelato with heart of raspberry sorbet covered with cocoa powder. I think this would have been better if the whole thing wasn't so icy. Cutting into it took some effort, but the flavor was good.
One dessert that not many at the table have had before was the Faloodeh Shirazi which is Persian iced dessert with rice noodles, rose water and syrup. I've actually had the rice noodles, rose water and syrup with ice cream before. The ice cream really cuts into the sometimes overwhelming sweetness of the rose syrup. Without the ice cream, I wasn't really into this dessert, but then our waiter pointed that we need to squeeze the lemon so that the juice would mix into the ice and the rest of the dessert. I was wondering why it came with half a lemon. Now I know. Once the lemon juice came to play, the sweet was balanced with tart and the whole dessert just seemed more refreshing. After the savory dishes we just had, the Faloodeh Shirazi was actually a wonderful palate cleanser.
Overall, the food here was excellent. The kabobs certainly lived up to their reputation and I was able to find a new and a better way of enjoying them. I look forward to a return visit and maybe, even check out their fish kabobs, which we weren't able to do this time around.
To see pics, go to:
211 E Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
I have to say, Raffi's has the very best basmati rice I've ever had.
To monkuboy above (with the response times I'm getting I don't want to reply twice) -- two hours free in any Glendale City structure with validation. There are several on Maryland.
I was introduced to Raffi's by a friend and it is one of those places where I am constantly thinking to myself, "how soon can I be back?"
Agree with the OP and Das Ubergeek that a) the plates of lemon basil and lavash are very tasty, and that b) the basmati is very fluffy, very good. Having tried both the kabob and barg, my favorite so far is the luleh (sp?) kabob. I know that a very safe, unoriginal choice, but it is the most flavorful and juicy of the main dishes that I have tried so far.
Abby - I don't know what kind of grilled pepper they serve, but it's spicy for me too! You would think that the grilling would temper the heat, but it's edible for me only in very small amounts.
Great write up and photos. Love this place!