I like Tabule a lot; it’s probably one of the better Middle Eastern restaurants in the city, though this particular visit wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring.
The starter was fantastic, at least — we got the sampler platter, which came with hummus, babaganuj, and tabule. The creamy hummus had a nice garlicky bite without overwhelming, the tabule was fresh and zingy, and the babaganuj had a mild smokiness that really set it apart. It comes with a basket of soft, toasty pita bread. It’s great.
My main wasn’t quite as good. I got the eggplant, which comes served on mujaddara, a Middle Eastern rice dish with lentils and fried onions.
The eggplant was perfectly cooked; that particular vegetable can easily be mushy, but in this dish it had a satisfyingly firm texture and an amazing creaminess. I think it might have been some of the most well-prepared eggplant I’ve ever had.
But while it and the rice were both quite tasty, the whole dish was one-note rich; the tahini sauce didn’t do much to contrast with the eggplant and the rice. Something with some sweetness or acidity would have really rounded things out — as delicious as it was, I was getting tired of eating it by the end of the plate.
I had the kunafa for dessert, which was a more unambiguous failure. I actually had this on a previous visit, and that time it had a really great balance of creaminess and crispiness, without being overly sweet. This time? Not so much.
But to quote LeVar Burton: you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s a side-by-side of the the one I just had, and the one I was served on my last visit.
Yikes. And it was as bad as it looked — it was absolute mush all the way through, with an unpleasantly intense, throat-burning sweetness.