Babylon of Lowell - new........ best stuffed grape leaves EVER!!!
Just got back from a great experience at Babylon in downtown Lowell. The best stuffed grape leaves EVER, warm with a meat/rice filling, presented with an onion mix in the middle sprinkled with red curry throughout. We had a falafel and a chicken shawarmha - both were great but not excellent. I was looking for that tahini dressing on the falafel that I love but it did have some really nice pickled veggies and the falafel itself was awesome. The table next to us though had a fantastic looking special - Babylon Chicken - looked fantastic. Lots of great items to go back and try - lamb next time. We took the baklava to go - looked fantastic - they are ready for the folk fest!!! It's right on Merrimack Street - next to the CVS on the right.
Ended up pleasantly surprised by this place, grabbing a quick meal before the David Sedaris event on Friday night. Very pleasant Iraqi staff who were surely very enthusiastic to have a full restaurant...I can't imagine there is all that much going on typically on Friday nights in Lowell?
Anyhow, started with complimentary glasses of Iraqi tea - pleasant, strong.
We had the fatoush salad - piquant dressing was enjoyable - very light hand with it which we appreciated. Topped with slivers of pita, good sprinkling of sumac.
Also had the chicken biryani - I am by no means a biryani expert, but we enjoyed it - strong flavor of fried onions, which I found a bit overwhelming, but my wife loved it, and rightly reminds me that it came with strongly pickled cauliflower and chopped dates - and at the same time, we scraped the plate clean.
For dessert, a tube of pastry filled with a lightly flavored cream - almost neutral like creme fraiche - maybe some slight vanilla/honey/floral notes - could have easily had 5 more of these - surprisingly light. Did not catch the name, but the slang term for it in Iraqi is apparently the "fat at the back of a woman's arm!" Pretty funny...
Really great cardamom coffee.
Most people were getting kabobs, etc., but cannot comment on them.
We were very happy with "ending up" here.
re: Bob Dobalina
i've had the fatoush and biryani as well. the salad i thought was top notch and the friendliness of the staff is truly remarkable.
the decor, having not been done over since the last tenant is a bit jarring, but the food wins out. local friends have enjoyed it too, so hopefully the place will cut it. you're right, bob, other than drunken college-aged kids prowling the streets (and that awful hookslide kelly's) downtown lowell can be pretty quiet most nights.
eta: it's a family business, owned by some iraqi ex-pats.