We went to a Kurdish Restaurant in St. Paul on Friday night with some friends. Husband and I love to try new foods, and when I try something I like, I love to pass on the good word.
The moment we walked in the door, I got very excited. While not a dive, the place had a comfortable atmosphere. The main part of the restaurant held a few booths and tables. An adjacent room had several more tables; we assumed it was a party room of some sort. Max capacity is probably 50 people. It had an “ethnic downtown loft” feel to it, with an exposed brick wall, peachy-orange paint and blue trim on the rest, and decor of family photos (and possibly pets? There was a small framed picture of a goat behind me…).
The menu was short, with only a few appetizers, soups, salads and 10 entrees. It also had a really cute story of how the restaurant started on the front. We decided on the family style option, where for $15.95 per person, we received the Naska Nan Wa Paneer Bread (yum–though I somehow managed to get feta cheese all over the table and on my forehead), a salad sampler (I think my favorite was the Tabouli), a cup of soup each (two of us got Niskena, two got the Mahagic) and five entrees to split amongst the four of us. I think this is a great way to go if you want to try a variety of items. The five entrees we tried were Kubay Sawar, Sheik Babani, Kubay Brinj, Chicken Tawa and something else that I don’t think is on the menu I linked to. All were tasty, but not “oh my gosh I will never eat this again” different. What we noticed most was though we were full and satisfied, we didn’t feel icky, as one would after eating a giant bowl of pasta or greasy chicken wings.
The service was excellent. They brought out our bread, then our soup and salad just as we were finishing the bread (it wasn’t the type of bread that you would necessarily want to accompany your soup and salad). The entrees came quickly as well, almost too quickly, as we ran out of space for all the dishes on the table! The server was helpful but not overly friendly (as if begging for a tip—I can’t stand that), and attentively filled our water glasses as needed. We were going to try the Kurdish lemonade, but we forgot. Oh well…guess we’ll have to go back!
Even if you are not normally an adventurous eater, I would recommend trying Babani’s.
Overall score: 4.5 yums out of 5
Pros: Location, decor, authenticity, fast service
Cons: Parking, table space