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In N Out Grill - Hoover

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Let's face it - we've got a nice selection of Middle Eastern/Greek style places around town and some are better than others. When my friends told me about this place, they said they had been told it was good Turkish food. As I've never had true Turkish food, I was intrigued, and jumped at the chance to go. (And no, much to my dismay, this is not Turkish food, rather the standard Middle Eastern fare. The owner is from Jordan, so if anything, that is the take on his offerings.)

The recommendation to try In N Out came from a bunch of military guys who have served duty in the Middle East. I took that to be a good enough recommendation to give the place a try yesterday. Though I'd like to talk to the individual who said this was Turkish food. He may have been commenting on the milder spices used when compared to that of India.

Approaching the small storefront shop that is situated between Academy Sports and Stein Mart on HWY 150 in the Wal-Mart shopping center, I couldn't help but notice the large signs suspended on PVC poles that were meant to be attention grabbers. The sign on the storefront advertised Mediterranean/American food. My first impression was not a good one, judging this book by the cover. But the promise of good food within was enough to put the first impression on hold, and venture inside.

The place is stark - some simple tables, a few curved booths, minimal decorations. A few simple pictures adorn the walls; nothing fancy. The smiling man behind the counter warmed the atmosphere, and made the three of us feel quite welcome. We later would find out this was the proud owner.

We were the only customers when we arrived - too late for the lunch crowd, too early for the dinner time guests. However, we lingered through our meal, trying different dishes and sampling desserts. By time we left the first of the dinner time diners were arriving.

The menu is full of your typical offerings you can find around town. As advertised by the large signs outside, they offer a selection of American style food as well as the Middle Eastern fare.

To begin we started with the Hummus Dip with pita. The hummus was creamy, smooth, delicately spiced with a good drizzle of light olive oil, this starter was gone before we knew it.

For our main entrees we ordered chicken schwerma wrap, lamb schwerma plate, chicken schwerma plate, and the lamb kabob & chicken schwerma plate (to go for later.)

The meats are moist, tender, and flavored very well but not over seasoned. The pita is tender and doesn't overwhelm the wrap. The tazziiki sauce was a fresh compliment to the sandwich. The plates are served with salad and yellow rice and your choices of hummus, tazziiki, or the in house special made baba ghanouj along with pita triangles.

A word on the house made salad dressing - it is very good. Made in house, the owner wouldn't tell me what all he puts into the salad dressing, but it was quite different, and tasty. The salad is typical iceberg salad mix with the addition of peppers, tomato slice, and bellpepper slice, but the house dressing lifts this lowly salad to something more.

The baba ghanouj is unlike any other I've sampled in town. An instant hit at our table, we will be coming back for more. Even my husband who thinks eggplant is to be despised, loved the baba ghanouj.

For dessert we tried both the Baklava and the Burma. The Baklava is the usual mixture of honey and walnuts baked into the thin sheets of phylo pastery. Burma was a new offering for us. Similar in taste to baklava, this contains pistachio instead of walnuts. A nice way to end a good meal. Should have tried their Turkish coffee to go with it, but did not. We'll have to give that a try next time.

The menu offers a selection of other items we did not sample yesterday, but will be back to try: Kibbi and Yogurt, Foul Dip (fava bean dip), Shish Tauk, Kafta, Manakeesh, Tabouli Salad, stuffed grape leaves, and sambosa.

The food was good overall. Good enough for us to want to return to try out the other Middle Eastern offerings. This place isn't going to make you stand up in your chair and proclaim it's the best place in town, but if you're looking for a slightly different take on the usual, it should be good.

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