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.