Special Guest Feature! FredEats: Exotic Bakeries & Syrian Cuisine
Fred, who makes the occasional appearance on this blog, has been my most frequent dining partner for many years now. I have to thank him for putting up with my mealtime photography, given that he can’t eat until the photos are to my satisfaction, which sometimes takes a while. He’s yet another Chicago to Ann Arbor convert, who does most, if not all, of the cooking in our house. I don’t really feature home-cooked recipes on this blog, but I get to experience just as many exciting dishes at home as I do when we go out! Oh, and we recently got engaged.
Ann Arbor is host to a wide array of Middle Eastern cuisine, from corner delis to classy ordeals like Mediterraneo. Syrian Cuisine & Exotic Bakeries falls under the former category, but despite its simple appearance, it bears some of the most flavorful and cost effective cuisine in the area. We’ve sampled several dishes from the restaurant.
Starting with the classics, the chicken shawarma is large for the price, enough to make two meals for smaller patrons like Clover, and is rich in vegetables with a delicious garlic sauce.
The beet salad has subtle flavors and feels quite healthy and refreshing.
The garlic yogurt is also remarkable; it is very fresh and makes for a savory side dish.
My favourite entrees include the red pepper kibbe, which is ground beef wrapped in a wheat shell and covered in a tangy red pepper sauce.
The meat pies come in a wide variety; they have ground beef with or without cheese, shredded chicken with a combination of sweet spices tasting of cinnamon and cardamom, and a filo-ball filled with meat and peas.
For my favourite sides, I recommend the fried eggplant salad or the cauliflower salad. The fried eggplant salad is lemony with an interesting variety of texture created by the unique mixture of peppers, onions, and eggplant. The cauliflower salad has a creamy/lemon taste and is quite delicious.
One thing to note for first-timers, a large number of the side dishes and entrees do have a lemon overtone, and loading up on too many of these dishes might be a mistake unless you’re craving sour. None of the meat filled pastries mentioned above feature lemon, and so getting one of them might be a way to help balance your meal.
Last but not least, there is a selection of around 30 deserts to finish off your meal. Most notable is the creamy and refreshing rice pudding which is frequently sold out, and has a flavor that is oddly reminscent of cool-whip. However, none of their deserts have ever disappointed us or gone to waste.
In the end, getting a meat pastry, a kibbe, a side, and a desert for around $12 is a fantastic deal, and we recommend Syrian Exotic Bakeries to anyone who wants great Middle Eastern Food.