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Monday, February 1, 2010

Kavkaz Kebab, Owings Mills

Kavkaz Kebab: A New and Authentic Azerbaijani Restaurant in Owings Mills

Turkish Coffee
When I was invited to come for a tasting at Kavkaz Kebab, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I mean, we all know about my love for Kebab places, but on top of that I was really excited to try the delights of Azerbaijani food – a cuisine that mingles the flavors of both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, with their own twist.

At first glance of the exterior of Kavkaz Kebab, located in a strip mall next to Five Guys and behind Bonefish Grill, you would probably think it's like any old carry-out place. Then you walk in and can tell immediately that a lot of thought went into the appearance of this restaurant with the gorgeous prints and beautiful rugs. Talking with Emil, one of the owners and Janna, his wife - it is clear that this restaurant is really an extension of their own home. They greet each customer with enthusiasm and energy, and spend time going over the menu in a way that was really refreshing and honest.

Lobio Salad, Eggplant Salad, Dolma

As you peruse the menu, a lot of the region's specialties can be found in the Appetizer section – don’t skip this!! I know it’s tempting to go straight for the meat, but the appetizers were incredible.

Consider the Grilled Eggplant Salad ($5.99), or it’s counterpart, the Eggplant Salad (which I actually preferred, though it’s not on the menu yet, but will be added), a cold salad of eggplant, green peppers and tomatoes mixed with onions and cilantro. This went perfectly with a side of their Tandoor Bread ($1.79) which you HAVE to order – it’s just too good to miss with its crispy outside and spongy, soft center. I LOVED this bread. And it’s served straight off their tandoor oven!

Or how about the Lobio Salad ($5.99)? If you like kidney beans, this is the salad for you. This simply prepared salad is made fresh with garlic, walnuts, olive oil and seasoning. I could eat a whole bowl of this and be happy (with some bread of course).

If you like the Greek Dolmades, then don’t miss Dolma ($5.99 for a plate full) which is grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat and served hot. You won’t be disappointed.


Or perhaps, if you love cheese (and who doesn’t, seriously), give the Georgian Kachapuri ($4.99 for two) a try. This was a DELIGHT. Flaky pastry filled with 3 mild cheeses – Mozzarella, Ricotta and Farmers Cheese. I loved this appetizer SO MUCH. What’s not to like about a cheese pie?

Kutabi with Greens and Kutabi with Meat (yes, yes, i know this is a terrible picture)

An order of Kutabi ($4.49 for two) is another must try (although, in all honesty, I think all of these are must tries!), but because this is unique to Azerbaijan, it should be first on your list. Think of them like crepes filled with either a meat filling or greens (spinach and dill). This was a highlight of my tasting evening – I couldn’t get enough! The outside of the thin dough was slightly crisp and there was a generous amount of filling. YUM. YUM.

What about if it’s super cold outside (aka, this whole winter) and you want to warm up? Try some soup! I was fortunate to try the Georgian Kharcho soup ($5.99). This has a bit of heat to it, but it’s midland is just enough to stick to your bones and keep you warm. The delicious broth is also accompanies by brown rice and hearty chunks of beef which were incredibly tender, as if they were simmering for a long time. There are other soups to choose from which sound great too, and they are so reasonable for such a good portion! I would definitely consider coming here for some soup and side of their super duper bread for a great meal.

KEBABS! Notice the potato kebab in the foreground, next to my favorite, the Lulya

OK, let me get to the main event – the kebabs, which are cooked on a charcoal grill and marinated for a LONG time. Entrees range from $12.99-$19.99 and come with grilled tomatoes, fresh onions and basmati rice.

I was generously offered a taste of the salmon, chicken, lamb chunks, Lulya (a mixture of ground lamb and beef – similar to the Persian koobideh), lamb chops and something I’ve never heard of – potato kebabs!!!! Yes, mashed potatoes grilled on a skewer. Oh, you better believe it was tasty. In fact, EVERYTHING was incredibly delicious and oh so juicy. Even the chicken breast chunks were the juiciest I’ve ever had before. Whatever you choose for your entrĂ©e, you will not be disappointed.

My favorite was the Lulya, of course. I say of course, because I’ve always preferred the ground meat kebabs instead of chunks – and this was honestly the best I’ve ever had. Try the kebabs with some pomegranate sauce (definitely the salmon) or their homemade chunky tomato sauce which has a bit of a kick, and goes excellently with the potato kebabs.

Shekebura and my sweet sweet love, the Baklava

For $2.99 treat yourself to a plate of the two desserts - the Shekebura and the Baklava, both made at the restaurant. The Shekebura is shaped into a crescent and is a not-too-sweet dough covering a substantial filling of hand ground almonds and sugar crystals. I tasted a bit of rose water too, perhaps? This was unlike anything I've ever tried before and I really enjoyed it. Definitely not overly sweet.

And the Baklava? OH MYYYYY WORDDDDDDDDDD. Let me just say that I am NOT a baklava fan. When they brought me one to try, I was only going to do it for the review, but then my world exploded and I was surrounded by the deliciousness of honey and almonds and pistachio. In actuality, this baklava is very different from most baklava I've had. It isn't made with layers of crispy pastry and covered in a sticky gooey honey mess. This baklava is hard, densely full of nuts and incredibly rich. Hands down it was AMAZING.

These desserts would definitely pair well with either the strong and beautifully presented Turkish coffee ($2.49) (picture shown above) OR the Kavkaz tea ($3.99 for a pot) which is Earl Grey with cardamom and served with sugar cubes (p.s. I LOVE SUGAR CUBES!!!!!)

So in the end, I think that if you like trying new cuisines - put this on your MUST VISIT list, though I would hazard a guess that it won't be a one-time deal. Be prepared to make this your favorite kebab stop - I know I have!

Kavkaz Kebab on Urbanspoon

DISCLAIMER: Though this was a free tasting at the request of the owners, I was not asked to write a positive review and felt no inclination to write anything which did not reflect my true opinion of Kavkaz Kebab.


Simply Life said...

How fun that you were invited to taste their food! It all looks GREAT!

starla said...

I missed this...I am absolutely going to go there. you know how much enticement it takes to lure me into the burbs, but you also know how much I treasure baklava. this place looks SO GOOD!!!!!

Nakiya @ Taste of Baltimore said...

Starla - This place is beyond fantastic. I've been 3 times now in 2 months, and you KNOW how much I like to try different places!

It's that good.

viagra online said...

I would like to taste it, it looks so delicious, I really will love it if I come there, I love the junk food, also the coffee is wonderful!

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