Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mona's Cafe, Shreveport: felafel, baba ganouj, Turkish coffee, bourma and even a shisha

Mona's Cafe was a meeting ground Saturday night for Anglo and Middle Eastern, for young and not-so-young. The word was "Food's delicious; have you tried the felafel?" Or, "Have you tried the baba ganouj?" Noma Fowler-Sandlin has already emailed me "I see you've been to Mona's. How was the kibi? Their hummus is wonderful."

The kibbe (spelling on all these dishes is variable because there is no direct correspondence between Arabic and English vowels) was smoky and tender; Mona's fried kibbe was served in football-shaped bombs of lamb and spices.

The fried felafel was aromatic and sweet. Pardon me if I incautiiously name it one of the city's best vegetarian dishes.

The hummus - sorry, I'm tasting my way through the leftovers that somehow followed us home - was creamy, with a slight after-tang. The tzatziki was lemony, thick and, well, superb. Dolmas were mild and appealing but the baba ganouj was astounding: smoky and spiciferous.

At the end of this Mediterranean trip I sipped a demi-tasse of fumacious Turkish coffee. Amidst the coffee beans there must have been dark-roasted pistachios or almonds. It was an effective foil to the
crispy, nutty bourma.

Was I totally seduced? Not totally: the green salad lacked distinction. Talbot, a soup maven, said the Lentil soup was not splendid.

And what about the potential head-to-head with our beloved restaurant, Yeero-Yeero? While the prices are similar (sandwiches about $4.49 to $6, entrees from about $10 to $15) and they both ply the Levant, there are different recipes, different specialties and distinct styles being offered; both are highly effective.

Mona's Cafe and International Grocery
11 am to 9 pm Sun - Thurs
11 am to 10 pm Fri & Sat
6030 Line Ave

The shisha? That's the Arabic-Hebrew version of the term hookah. Mona's offers the pleasure of puffing a shisha outside, after 3 pm, for $9 and up.


trudeau said...

Pardon! I forgot to add BYOB. Bring your own wine, beer or alcohol, says Mike of Mona's.

ligeia said...

Thank you for posting this!
I am from out of town, but go to Shreveport often, dining regularly at Yeero, Yeero:o) There is nothing Mediterranean where I live; nothing Middle Eastern. I am so excited to see this; I will be there, and will bring friends!

Noma said...

Baton Rouge was just full of Lebanese Restaurants. I got spoiled to it. Although I found some of the dishes at Mona's not nearly as good as the BR sampling, I am pleased as punch to have them here.

They can improve the sandwiches by adding salad to them, even a bad one. The schwerma was dry the day I had it, but it may've just been that once. I do want to try again.

Thanks for pimping them, RT. These new places need nudged, and so do potential customers!

trudeau said...

Merci, Ligeia and Noma. Btw, space did not permit a rave review of Mona's Intl Grocery. It is bursting with goodies.