Al Basha adds heat

 

Sometimes you want a quick and simple

lunch or dinner that’s got a little kick to it and doesn’t

cost much. Let’s also say you’ve met your burger and

pizza quotient for the month, so something different is a plus.

This is where a place like Al Basha, a

new Mediterranean restaurant and grocery store in Broad Ripple, comes

in.

Al Basha is located in the Broad Ripple

strip mall that, for years, has been home to two of the Village’s

most stalwart dining establishments: the Thai Café and

Shalimar. In the years since those two fixtures opened, this strip

has become home to a variety of other eateries and, now that Thr3e

Wise Men has opened by the entry to the strip’s parking lot,

this swatch of Broad Ripple real estate has become more popular than

ever for hungry folks.

Al Basha makes a simple first

impression. The unadorned room is scrupulously neat and clean. A few

tables share the space with a surprisingly extensive array of Middle

Eastern foodstuffs. Here you’ll find chilled baked goods and

Labna, a yogurt-type spread, along with canned goods, spices and such

basic building blocks of Mediterranean cuisine as chick peas, farina,

semolina, sumac and bulgar wheat.

When ordering at the counter, you’ll

find that Al Basha offers all the classics – Hummus ($4.50),

the disconcertingly named but tasty Foul Mudammes ($4), Stuffed Grape

Leaves ($7.99), Falafel ($6.99) and Gyros ($5.99) – as well

some all-American options like a Ribeye Steak sandwich ($7.99), a

Chicken Philly ($5.99) and, yes, a Hamburger ($4.99). You can also

order fish dinners made with your choice of catfish, tilapia, ocean

perch or whiting as well as chicken wings.

We stopped in for lunch and started

with a Mazza Combination appetizer platter ($10.99), consisting of

hummus, Baba Ghanouj, two stuffed grape leaves, three falafel

patties, a sprinking of feta cheese and pita bread. Of this array, I

found the falafel and grape leaves particularly good. The falafel

patties, often overcooked and dry, were crisp but pleasingly moist

and flavorful at the center. And the grape leaves, stuffed with

finely ground beef and rice with seasonings, had a hearty, smoky

taste. The eggplant-based Baba Ghanouj was refreshingly tart and,

though I would have preferred a little more garlic, the hummus was

whipped to an almost creamy consistency. Everything was fresh and

tasted made from scratch.

We followed up these familiar

appetizers with a variation on a standard Mediterranean theme.

Al Basha offers a hot or extra spicy

version of the Gyros Sandwich ($6.99), a large pita pouch stuffed

with flakes of rotisserie lamb mixed with grilled onions and a Greek

raita, or cucumber yogurt-type sauce. In this case, the meltingly

tender, bite-size flakes of lamb were infused with a bright orange

hue thanks to having been marinated in a kind of chili sauce. The

meat carried a delicious burn that echoed through the cool raita.

This was gyros with a difference. If you love wings, you ought to

give this sandwich a try.

My companion opted for the Spicy

Chicken Ragin sandwich ($5.99). Here was a juicy pile of shredded

chicken tenders sautéed with onions, green peppers, tomatoes

and mushrooms, then topped with mozzarella cheese and a spicy chili

sauce, and served on a soft sandwich roll. Taken together, the

ingredients made for a robust, rather creamy mouthful, with some heat

around the edges.

Al Basha has a nifty way of taking

familiar Mediterranean dishes for a spicy spin. If you’re

looking for fresh and simple dishes with a kick, check it out.

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