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Aug 2, 2012 04:24 PM

Darna- Middle Eastern on Court street-- nice!

This is by no means an exhaustive review- but...

This place is adorable-- a little hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern sandwich shop with a small menu. I only tried three items (falafel wrap, chicken over rice, and baklava) and all three were delicious.

The falafel was "wet" (as opposed to dry and mealy). It was really tasty. They put red peppers, mushrooms, and onions in with the falafel balls and the combo works perfectly. Too many places put this MOUND of lettuce- mostly lettuce rind- and tomatoes on the top part of the sandwich and then bury the falafel balls at the bottom and the whole thing ends up being an uneven, top-heavy mess-- too salad-y up top, too falafel-y on the bottom. Since this is a wrap (as opposed to a pita)- and since they don't cram it to the top with cardboard tasting "veggies"- it doesn't suffer from this problem. The result is an eminently enjoyable sandwich that doesn't fall apart when you try and eat it and can actually stay intact for more than three minutes. Oh and did I mention that the bottom doesn't fall out- as so often happens with tahini-laden pita falafel sandwiches. Yup- falafel WRAPS for me from now on...

The chicken over rice was wonderful as well- they use short-grain rice (the small kind) and the chicken is well-spiced. Also, the meat isn't fatty.

Finally, there's the coup de grace: the baklava- which the owner told me they get from Damascus bakery. Holy mother of God is this good. Finally a properly-baked piece of baklava- as opposed to the wet-cardboard types that so often abound. Chewy yet flaky, honeyed- but not drowning in the stuff- wow wow WOW is this perfect.

3 guesses as to where I'm going next time we have a dinner party and a tray of baklava is needed...

Anyway- back to Darna-- GO. You'll like it. Good food, and a good vibe. I'd been meaning to stop in for a while but it's kind of hidden and I always forgot.

No more.

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  1. Does Darna make the wraps or used packaged ones?I think what is better than a falafel wrap is a falafel made with fresh pita which isn't the kind with a pocket. Freshly baked flat bread which is then wrapped around the fillings as you've described. My favorite in the area is at Fatoosh, but I will check out Darna. Are you new to the area? Damascus is widely known for its middle eastern pastries.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Bkeats

      Haha- no I'm a longtime resident (13 years) but I've never been to Damascus. That's about to change...

      As for the wrap being store-bought or whatever- I get what you're saying about freshly made pitas- you'll get no argument from me there- but their wrap is really nice, regardless of where the bread itself is from. They put portobello mushrooms and peppers in with the falafel and man is it delicious...I'm comparing Darna to Zaytoon's and Darna's better.

      That Baklava- Jesus me- I could eat ten of those squares. You know how often times the bottom is all soggy, with the consistency of a wet newspaper? The Damascus baklava are perfect- flaky yet chewy- honey-laden and yet not drowning in the stuff.

      Baklava are like croissants- a million places make them, two of them correctly.

      1. re: twan55

        Damascus is fabulous! Great pita bread, zatar bread, spinach/meat pies and fabulous pastries.

        1. re: twan55

          I agree. As to croissants, have you checked out Bien Cuit? Not the best I've had but much better than most of what you find.

          1. re: Bkeats

            Uh- yeah, I've checked out Bien Cuit.

            My GOD is that an example of the emperor wearing no clothes.

            I thought it was- well- NOT good. The croissant was doughy and tasteless- literally 10% of a decent Paris version. I guess some of the other stuff may be o.k.- but I don't care- I judge on croissants- and theirs suck.

            Look- I'm no fool- I realize full well that NOBODY in America makes a decent croissant (it honestly might be the single most impossible-to-find-done-correctly baked item in existence)--but Bien Cuit still disappointed; people have been raving about this place like it's the second coming of Pâtisserie Boulangerie Blé Sucré- and it's most decidedly not.

            No offense- if you dig Bien Cuit then cool, I'm happy for you- I just can't BELIEVE how much hype that place gets for what it is. Seriously- I believe you if you say it's a decent bakery or they do "this-and-that" well, but I beg to differ on their croissants. Tried 'em twice-- decidedly unimpressed.

            Payard had the only somewhat Paris-like croissant in the city-- and it's gone (or at least the version that made a decent croissant is gone).


            Just about everything "croissant" made in NYC is a doughy, poorly-baked paper-weight-- a croissant in name only. They don't even LOOK like croissants here (they're too big).

            The whole croissant-thing touches a nerve. I swear to God when I was a child there was a bakery the size of my closet named Le Petit Four which was run by French-Canadien women and located in- of all places- Providence, Rhode Island that had the best croissants I've had outside of Paris. Indeed, it was literally the best French bakery I've ever been to in America- by a MILE.

            EVERYTHING was good there- and the croissants were literally out of this f__king world. People would line up on Saturday and Sunday to get some- the line stretched down the block, and you could SMELL the butter and baking-scents. I dream about that place.

            My mother- in San Francisco- used to beg me to bring her cakes from there- which I would, taking them on the plane across country.

            It's been closed for 30 years.

            I have never found anything even remotely close to that bakery. It ruined me.

            1. re: twan55

              Ok - I agree that Bien Cuit doesn't compare with a good french bakery. My comment was that its better than the average product you get here in NYC.

              Comparing to Paris doesn't do any good as its no contest. We were in Paris in the spring and had fantastic bread and croissants every morning. When we got back home, my son asked why we can't get good bread like that here. I couldn't come up with a reason. Wish I knew why. We can get some awesome middle-eastern pastries and bread. Why is it so hard to get good french style baked goods?

              1. re: twan55

                The two best croissants I've found in NYC are at Balthazar and Ceci Cela, both in Soho.

            2. re: twan55

              Yes, Damascus is awesome! Their triangle pitas, and sesame pitas are exquisitely fresh and totally delicious. But they don't have preservatives, so use quick, or freeze.

              1. re: rose water

                Yup, those triangle pitas last about 24 to 36 hours. Wait any longer and they get Smurf zits. My favorite pitas in the city, though.

                  1. re: rose water

                    Those triangle pitas are awesome. They freeze pretty well, actually.

                    Agree with Twan55 about Bien Cuit....totally overpriced and mediocre.

                    Also agree with Emarcus about Ceci Cela....not so into Balthazar though. Millefeuille, in the village, also has good croissants.

                    1. re: waxyjax

                      Up in Montreal this week. Croissants here are so much better than what I find back home. Just before we left we went by Bien Cuit. The name is very apt because everything looked well, well done as in over cooked. Didn't buy anything. Check into our hotel in Montreal and walk out to a local bakery. Bread and croissants look nothing like what we see at BC. They're golden colored here. Not dark brown and charred looking. So much better. Have to come here for the bread more often as its closer than Paris.

                      1. re: Bkeats

                        For me Bien Cuit is all about the rye bread. Ten dollars for a loaf is sky high but its some of the best bread Ive ever eaten.