On the windswept banks of the exotic Sparks Marina, where the sky meets the sea, adorned with images of Grecian statues representing lofty ideals and a magnificent, ancient acropolis seemingly brushed by air, there rests the Kebab House. ’Tis a cradle of modern thought and a bitchin’ place for grub. It’s the best place around for Mediterranean and Armenian fare.
Despite its decorating pretensions, it’s a small, comfortable place, and, though it falls somewhat short as a stand-in for the Mediterranean Sea, it’s surprising how nice the Sparks Marina looks from the window. The restaurant is decorated with zestful holiday cheer, and though the holiday decorations clash with the images of ancient Greece, the terrific food more than compensates.
The specialty is, of course, kebabs: meat seasoned, skewered and roasted. I had the Lula kebab pita sandwich ($7.95): minced lean beef with onion, parsley and tomatoes. It was excellent. Upon tasting the first bite, I had to abruptly halt my conversation, so that I could simply nod in satisfaction and savor the flavor.
The menu describes the contents of the Lula kebab pita sandwich and the Lula kebab plate in exactly the same terms. The only difference listed on the menu is about $10 in price. I asked our waitress the difference between the two dishes, and she told me that the Lula kebab pita sandwich is a kebab wrapped in pita bread, while the Lula kebab plate is a kebab over rice. I was a little confused about why the rice was so much more expensive, but I didn’t pursue the point because I preferred the pita anyway.
My girlfriend, Danielle, started off with the lentil soup ($2.50 a cup), which was more substantial and flavorful than it usually is. She then had the vegetarian delight ($13.95), which features everyone’s favorite mushed chickpea treat, hummus (or, as it’s spelled on the menu, “hammos") as well as fresh tabbouleh salad, sweet grape leaf dolmas, and very tasty mutabbal, a dish similar to hummus but made with eggplant.
The service was brisk but not brusque. The only thing that really bothered me about the whole Kebab House experience was the smooth jazz background music (a disturbing trend of late), here made all the worse by the television in the corner, whose volume competed with the music. This would have been bad enough, had the television not been tuned to a show that appeared to be a solid half hour of a blond woman running around and screaming. This sonic mixture of screeching girl and smooth-jazz saxophone, though perversely appropriate, is largely unappetizing.
In truth, it interrupted the flow of conversation only intermittently, and again, the food more than compensated. We stayed for dessert, ordering, as you might expect, baklava ($2). It arrived prettily presented with whipped cream and a bread stick. Everything at the Kebab House was nicely presented. I paused to admire each dish before eating it. But we especially enjoyed lingering over dessert, contemplating Platonic ontology, enjoying Kenny G’s duet with the frightened woman on the TV screen, and gazing longingly at the romantic shores of the marina.