Tucked quietly in the Gateway Shopping Center, Kabab Cafe is a fast-casual Persian grill, serving a variety of kababs and other middle-eastern specialties. It’s an interesting choice for a shake-up of the rote, standard fare that pervades the area.
The bright, open storefront is spotlessly clean, if simple inside. The ample seating area is perfect for lunch or a quick dinner, though certainly not for lingering over a meal. The food is well-suited for takeout, able to survive the trip home still warm and without losing too much quality.
The menu, shockingly, is dominated by kababs. A wide selection of lamb, chicken, several varieties of beef, and doner (that classic “meat on a stick” this cuisine is known for), are lovingly spiced, tender and juicy. The veggie kabab is well-charred for maximum flavor. Flafel is crispy on the outside, yet moist and savory within.
At lunch, try a sandwich ($4.99 on weekdays) served on the wonderfully fresh, airy flatbread with lettuce, tomato & onion, and choose the cucumber-yogurt side salad (which is really more like a sauce than a salad), which brings a welcome tangy sweetness into the mix. For dinner, platters come with two kababs, a side salad, some of that wonderful flatbread, and enough rice to feed Radnor Township. (Budget tip: order one meat-based platter, plus an “extra” veggie kabab for $4, and you’ll have plenty of food for two adults — maybe 3).
Aside from the kababs, one of the specialties is koreshte goosht, a ground beef stew with peas & potatoes. It’s an interesting, perhaps seductively spiced blend (turmeric, I think?), but texturally lacking something. The beef was just a bit too pasty – almost like eating a ragu. I’m glad to have tried it once, but I’m not sure I would order it again.
Though in general our experiences have been quite good, my one gripe with Kabab’s food is that the chefs can be a bit heavy-handed with the onions – particularly in the koobideh (ground beef). Eaten straight, the onion flavor is so overwhelming that it’s almost difficult to taste the beef. On a sandwich, when mixed with the other flavors, it is far less noticeable, but either way, it will stick with you for the rest of the day (that’s not a good thing).
Otherwise, Kabab Cafe is a great option to mix up your lunches or take-out meals. They’re celebrating their 2nd anniversary in March 2011, so if you haven’t been yet, it’s time to give them a try. Maybe next time you think about visiting 5 Guys, try a kabab instead!
Gateway Shopping Center