Omnivore - Babylon Cafe brings Iraqi food to Atlanta
Photos of lunch at an intriguing new restaurant
As far as I know, the three-month-old Babylon Cafe (2257 Lenox Road, 404-329-1007) is the first Iraqi restaurant to open in our city. It's located in the now bright blue-and-yellow building at Lenox Road's intersection with Cheshire Bridge. You know the building. It's been death to one restaurant after another during the last 20-plus years.
I had my second lunch there Wednesday and have been very impressed. I'll be featuring it in a Grazing column about cuisines, like Greek and Indian, that share Iraq's Sumerian heritage. Here are a few pics:
This is hard to make out, but it's an utterly delicious whole tilapia grilled with mysterious Iraq seasonings, among them pomegranate. It's called samak masquf and is one of Iraqis' favorite dishes.
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Here's a mezze platter that includes startling-fresh baba ghanoush, crunchy and creamy falafel, a minty chopped salad, and dolma. The latter, grape leaves stuffed with gooey rice, was my least favorite but my friend Rose ranked it the best.
Dessert was two slices of just-made knafa, popular throughout the Middle East. It's kinda like a cheese danish with a spritz of rose water.
Here's owner-chef Saad Marwad, who can explain the difference in Iraqi cuisine and that of other Middle Eastern countries in detail.
A warning: the lunch and dinner menus are the same here. Everything, except two sandwiches, is over $15. My fish, for example, was $20 - kinda high for lunch in my book. Marwad said he may introduce some lunch specials, but argues quite convincingly that were he located in Buckhead and cooking with the same fastidiously selected fresh ingredients, his food would be considered inexpensive.