Friday, July 22, 2011

Sababa Middle Eastern Grill (Squirrel Hill)

Update 2/1/2012: Sababa Grill has now closed.

Original post:

Several months ago I had recommended Sababa Grill in Squirrel Hill to a good friend of mine.  I had visited this casual neighborhood joint twice before and had great meals both times.  Not too long after making the recommendation, LivingSocial ran a promotion for the restaurant, so my friend and I decided to each get one so we could go twice.  We finally made our Trip #1 of 2 this past Saturday.

As in my two previous trips, I got The Rainbow which is an appetizer platter.  Normally The Rainbow consists of Hummus, Babaganush, Turkish Babaganush, Tabouli Salad, Spanish Eggplant Salad, Israeli Salad, Grape Leaves, and something else that seems to rotate in and out of the menu.  (This time was a cucumber salad; last time it was carrots, and the time before that was eggplants).  I love The Rainbow because I can taste a variety of appetizers, and everything is always delightful...well, with one strange exception.  The Babaganush.

On my first visit, I took a sniff of the Babaganush and noted to my six dining companions that it smelled oddly like cigarettes.  Then I had a bite of it, and it tasted like cigarettes.  For the record, everyone else thought so too! On my second visit I took R. and we again ordered The Rainbow.  When I told him about the cigarette-tasting dish, he thought I was just being prissy at first, but once he had a bite himself, he, too, agreed with my assessment.

So clearly I'm not crazy...  Maybe that's how authentic babaganush tastes like and I'm just ignorant, but all I know is that I didn't like it.  But, I want to emphasize again that everything else in The Rainbow was wonderful which is why I keep ordering it again and again.

On this visit I smartened up and decided to substitute the Babaganush - as well as the Turkish Babaganush (just in case) - with two other dishes.  I had hoped for a double order of the Tabouli Salad, which is a tangy mix of bulgur wheat with veggies, parsley, lemon, and olive oil, and the Spanish Eggplant Salad, which is spiced eggplant with tomato and garlic.  Unfortunately, they were running low on the Spanish Eggplant Salad, so they gave me two Hummus instead.  The Rainbow was also served with fresh warm pita bread for dipping.  As usual, everything was fantabulous.  My favorite was definitely the Spanish Eggplant Salad - and I even grew up despising eggplants! - but this was so good I couldn't stop.  I also really enjoyed the hummus.  I even managed to get my friend, who hates hummus, to try some, and she actually took more than one bite which according to her, is like a miracle.  She also loved the Chicken Shishlik Lava Wrap she ordered.  I would have liked to have a main course too, but I knew I wouldn't be able to finish all the food so I'm going to save that for next time.

The Rainbow at Sababa Grill
The Rainbow, with a few substitutions ($11.50)

The Rainbow at Sababa Grill
The Rainbow, from another angle

Overall we had a great meal and a wonderful time!  I will update again after our Trip #2 of 2.

Restaurant info:
Sababa Middle Eastern Grill
2121 Murray Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
On the web:

Sababa Middle Eastern Grill on Urbanspoon