Massachusetts Restaurant Reviews
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Rating: 4 / 5
El Basha has two restaurants in Worcester, and in 2006 expanded out to a location in Westboro. It's right on Route 9, where the "pyramid building" used to be before it burnt down. This is now a small strip mall with a wine shop and El Basha in it, at Technology Drive You have to get off Route 9 onto Technology Drive to get to it. This is the exit with the new Picadilly Pub.
The restaurant looks like a "generic nice restaurant" on the inside, with gold walls, dark ceilings, and a burgundy carpet. The tables and chairs are a darkish wood. There's nothing necessarily to say "Middle Eastern" except the gently upbeat music playing, which sounds like something you'd enjoy watching belly dancers sway to. I wonder if they are going low key as not to intimidate those who have not tried Middle Eastern food before and are taking a gentle foray into the realm.
When we went in Sept 2006 they didn't have a liquor license, but with the wine shop right next door, this was no problem. Even with the $5 corkage fee, it was cheaper than the regular restaurant mark-up would be on a bottle of wine! I hope they stay BYOB for a long while :)
They have a nice range of salads, appetizers and main dishes. There are both the traditional dishes and more "tame" versions for people who want to enter this food style gently. The hummis and pita bread ($5) was fresh and tasty, and we ate it up quickly. The rolled grape leaves with rice inside were also very fresh tasting, with the vinegary flavor of the roll nicely offsetting the starchiness of the rice.
For my main dish I had the baked kibbee with stuffed grape leaves combination platter ($14). It was great! The kibbee is like a "meatloaf" mix of ground lamb and beef with grain. it was served as two triangle pieces. The grape leaf rolls are about an index finger long, about 3/4" thick, and quite tasty. Again, there's a tang of vinegar, the gentle flavor of the grape leaf and then the filling which is a mix of rice and beef. The food isn't being drowned in sugar or thick sauces - it is all the fresh, natural flavors of the foods.
My friend had the chicken port saiid which again was very fresh tasting. This one was more heavily spiced, giving it a rich, earthy flavor.
We had a White Horse 2004 Viognier with it, which had lovely fruity flavors of apricot and nectarine. We enjoyed it greatly!
I definitely suggest that people check out this restaurant. There are many mild items on the menu to get you started, and more richly traditional items if you want to see what Middle Eastern food is all about! It's all about fresh, flavorful, healthy food.
NOTE: We visited again in Mar 2007 and were still able to BYOB.
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