Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chadra Mezza

I know I promised you a Hui Chuan review and you'll get one someday but this is urgent. Please put down your work and read this immediately.

I like Lebanese food now.

On the recommendation of everybody in Fort Worth I went to Chadra Mezza this past week and I need to get this review out before I forget the many foods available.

My wife and I went on Friday for the famous Friday buffet. Normally, when I think of buffets, I think of obesity. Even at soup and/or salad (quite possibly the most disgusting restaurant in the history of restaurants) obesity reigns. So when people tell me about a great buffet, I include them in the same group as those who eat frozen mexican food (see my La Playa Maya review). Also, I have experienced more cases of food poisoning at buffets then at any hole in the wall.

So I was skeptical, but I like to expand my horizons, so Lebanese food, being beyond my horizon was an acceptable option.

Chadra Mezza is across the street from the Old Neighborhood Grill and there is apparently a great backstory to this place but you can find that on other websites so I wont retell it. What I do know, is that this place has a bar, so I don't think you can bring your own hooch, but you can sit at the bar and feel like you're in Lebanon...if Lebanon had a Fort Worth themed restaurant selling Lebanese food.

So, there we were, in Lebanon, drinking Rahr beer and ready to approach the buffet. The first thing you'll notice is that this is not Golden Corral. The buffet has a salad section and an entree/veggie section. There is no soft serve ice cream dispenser, no sprinkles, no pudding. This is a serious Lebanese buffet. You can feel the bullets flying over your head as you prepare your plate.

Unlike most of these posts, I want to outline exactly what food was available because this place was so unusual to my mexican/hamburger palate. There was a zucchini/garlic/tomato/cheese thing that was really spicy. Rolled chicken with cheese in the middle, covered in a cream sauce. Salmon. Tilapia. Lamb. Rice. Falafal - "like a hush puppie" said our waitress. Cauliflower - some how this was delicious without coating it in queso. Some other meat.

Ok, so now that you know whats available, here's what to get. All of it but that other meat. I'm not sure what it was but it looked dry. The rest of the food was delicious.

The zucchini thing was very spicy but it was really good. I mixed it with Lebanese rice. This was like when they first decided to mix regular with fried and created fried food. Brilliant on my part, if I must say. The chicken was one of my favorites and my wife's favorite. The lamb was amazing and it came on a bone. So you can eat it like a caveman if you're tacky. If you're upscale and citified like me, you'll use your knife and fork (although you don't really need a knife). I'm a big fan of lamb and the lamb I had was perfectly cooked. Not overdone, very tender and nothing added to it so you get to actually enjoy the lamb. Funny isn't it, baby sheep is considered awesome, but baby dog is never popular at restaurants here.

The falafel has a very unique spice and flavor to it that I loved but the Mrs. didn't. She was asked to leave the table. She came back with Cauliflower and I let her stay. I don't know how it was cooked but it was really good. I actually got seconds. The fish looked good although we didn't eat it. My wife thought the Salmon may have been undercooked and we decided it was a poor attempt at sushi.

We didn't eat the Tilapia either but only because eating healthy is for suckers. Enjoy those extra five years of life under the alien's rule. We'll be resting peacefully in our lard filled mausoleums.

So all in all, the food was a big hit. I have never been so giddy about eating something unusual. This place is really good and it provides a great break to the usual flavors people always eat. Luckily, if you're boring and don't want to broaden your horizons, you can eat safely here as well. They have Italian food for the people they laugh at when back in the kitchen.

I also have to tell you about the baklava. It was a really hard praline type substance with a phyllo topping and some ice cream. The honey infused phyllo was great. The ice cream was great. I couldn't eat the hard stuff. Literally, my restaurant supplied utensils couldn't cut it. I'm blaming this on their failure to give me a chainsaw. What I could taste from licking it was good, but that seemed odd and made the couple next to us move away. I'm going to try it again in hopes that this was a fluke.

I give this place twenty three thumbs up. You get culture, a good meal at a great price, an experience to hold over all your hamburger eating friends, and a trip to Lebanon along with a number of jokes to make about the type of food. Notice that I failed to make a single joke tying the name of the food to a segment of the female population with a similar sounding name.... Bravo me.

Check it out and let me know if you've ordered the Ablama. It looked good on the menu but I don't think it was available on the buffet. Also, I would like to ask the restaurant family to put tabbouleh and pita bread into the buffet options. I was really looking forward to that.

But if any of you have been to Carshon's recently, you'll notice restaurants don't take my recommendations seriously (no chocolate coconut pie yet).

So enjoy your trip to Lebanon. Make jokes about the name. Lick your baklava. And come here to tell me what you think about the place. I hope this connection between the Fort Worth and Lebanese community can grow and strengthen. Maybe someday we'll have a Taste of Lebanon here in Fort Worth.

Edit: Welp, I messed up this one. I ate at Chadra Mezza, not Cafe Chadra, so any of you that read this before now saw the wrong name. I apologize. From now on I'll actually read the signs of the restaurants I go into. Thanks for the heads up anonymous. I have changed all references...hopefully.

Chadra Mezza and Grill on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I think you were at Chadra Mezza. Cafe Chadra is still open over by JPS.
I have another spot for you to try: Thai Tina. It is on Henderson just past White Settlement (in the old newstand building--remember newstands?) just across from JJ's Blues Bar and a restaurant that you recommended that is already closed. It is fantastic and very unusual.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

I think you're right. That was the name everybody told me and I wasn't looking for a sign. Thanks for the update. I'll change the post accordingly. Is the other one good?

I don't think I've been to J&J's Blues Bar. I have gone to the J&J's over on University that serves po-boys, but I think thats a different J&J's.

Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

The other one is good. A little divey which you would probably like seeing that you are drawn to holey places. It was popular enough to spawn the new one!
Thai Tina's is across the street from Trinity (closed) that you liked. J&J's is great and another hole in the wall but the musical/bar type rather than food. J&J's Hideaway, J&J's Blues Bar and J&J's Oyster Bar (where you've eaten) are siblings. The Oyster bar was even cooler when it was in the old metal diner down University across from the Modern. Another dive you MUST try is Celeborelle. It is fantastic! It closes now and then (?). I just noticed an ad today that they are open again. I'm going tomorrow! It is a scary buffet that might frighten you off but the secret is not to eat off the buffet! You can order anything you want that is not on the buffet. I order the gyro meat with roasted tomatoes and onions and yogurt sauce. They bring it out with freshly baked pita bread. Absolutely wonderful. My kids even love it. Please go and tell us what you think.

cdees39 said...

Hmm-- new Thai place to try.

Chadra Mezza is on my list. Does anyone besides me think it is unusual that FW has so many Lebanese/Middle Eastern choices?

Hedary's, Byblos', Phoenecian, etc.

cdees39 said...

Went to Thai Tina's for lunch. This place is wonderful. The staff is great. We had the Thai Beef which was good. We also had the Green Curry with Chicken. That was incredible. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome. I'm familiar with Tina from a previous restaurant and I'm so glad she has opened in Fort Worth! Pass the word (but not to too many people!).

Hey, FWHITW. Did you go to Angelos for their 50th birthday party? A sliced beef sandwich and a "large" for less than $1!! What a great way to celebrate!

Michael Bourgon said...

Okay, so where's Cafe Chadra? We were planning on going, but drove on Allan past it - it looked like some abandoned store that shared a parking lot with a Gas Station. It was a block or two before Galveston, and had a huge sign that said Cafe Chadra.

Was that somehow not it? We didn't see any cars in the parking lot, and that + the location = Paris Coffee Shop for lunch. (Which, even at 1, still had pies!)

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Unhhhh....since Michael Bourgon brought it up.....could you give us addresses and/or directions in your reviews?
It's not enough for you to write great reviews.
You must lead us there. And pick up the tab.


Allen in Fort Worth

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

This Thai Tina place sounds like a future lunch spot.

I don't know where Cafe Chadra is. Chadra Mezza is on Park Place, west of 8th and across the road from ONG>

Cafe Chadra has a website (www.cafechadra.com) but I haven't eaten there yet.

Anonymous said...

you're welcome. now you need to go to Celaborelle. and Thai Tina. and Zeke's. and the Lunch Box. and Roy Pope. and Margie's Italian Garden. and Montgomery Street Cafe. and ................

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

I know I know I know!!!

I'm so far behind. Don't worry, now that spring is upon us I can't stay in the office everyday for lunch.

Stephanie said...

Was at Chadra Mezza last night and had the Turkish coffee ice cream . . . OMG! That stuff is amazing! You must try it next time you go!

Anonymous said...

I went to Thai Tina's last night with my family. We were the only table there at 8:15 so we had their undivided attention. It was fantastic!! Her spring rolls are awesome, the sweet and sour dipping sauce is housemade and unbelievable. She wouldn't allow my son to order chicken fingers (thank you, Tina) so she hooked him up with fried rice and a huge chicken satay. Along with some calamari and he has a new favorite meal! She brought complimentary wine to us and treated us to an amazing dessert platter: sliced mango, vanilla ice cream, purple rice and coconut rice, beautifully presented. I could not believe the coconut rice! Wow! Please go soon! She did all the mosaics on the walls by herself and it is her daughter's gorgeous photo on the togo menu--plus her husband took the photo. It is a true family business and a labor of love. GO!

Anonymous said...

Cafe Chadra is still open? I was under the impression that Cafe Chadra closed and had been replaced by Chadra Mezza & Grill.

In case you didn't know, and were wondering, Cafe Chadra used to be, or still is, maybe, on Galveston Ave near JPS.

I ate at Cafe Chadra for the first time a couple of years ago. It was amazing. A few weeks ago, a friend told me the restaurant had moved and was now on Park Place. I was there this weekend and had the penne a la vodka. You need to try the penne a la vodka. It was indescribable!

TBC said...

I love Thai Tina's... if you like fish, try the Sea Bass. Orgasmic. Crispy Red Snapper is to die for when available. I could also (and have) eaten just crab rangoons, wontons, and spring rolls for dinner, with lot's of Tina's fresh homemade sweet and sour.

Anonymous is right -- "Family Business" is what makes this place even more special. Tina is a true Jewel on this earth, and lucky for us, she loves to cook and feed people!

Anonymous said...

Cafe Chadra on Allen St (across from JPS) was purchased by one of his employees & is now named Pittypat's. The food is basically the same menu. Right now, it's only open for lunch.

Anonymous said...

The steak shwarma at Chadra Mezza is wonderful. Very authentic. Service on the patio was outstanding. Our server was knowledgebal about ingrediants in various dishes. This was helpful because I am gluten intolerant, and the owner/chef substituted dishes I could eat - the sauteed vegetables were spicey hot and tasted great. We will continue to eat here. The buffet also looked good. Everything was fresh.