Review: Sultan Mediterranean Restaurant in The Grove
Sultan Mediterranean Restaurant is a new family-run operation turning out delectable Middle Eastern dishes at 4200 Manchester Road in The Grove. The dark gray dining space, sparsely decorated with Turkish textiles hung here and there, belies the bright and dazzling plates of food hustled out of the busy kitchen. Here were some of the standouts.
Until around 3 p.m., meals at this small and welcoming spot begin with a complimentary bowl of lentil soup, which is prepped every morning and served until the pot runs dry. This surprisingly satisfying stew is a mixture of lentils, onion, curry and brown rice slow-simmered into a curry lover’s dream.
The crispy, fluffy house-made naan coming out of Sultan’s clay tandoor oven is what all restaurants should aspire to create. It’s best as a base for the lahmageen bread dish – a savory flatbread spread with a rich, meaty paste of tomato, ground beef, onion and spices. Sprinkled with sumac-flavored pickled onion to add a bit of sourness, the lahmageen also comes with a lemon wedge and a light drizzle of garlic yogurt.
This signature dish is a savory phyllo dough potpie teeming with tender pieces of lamb shank, kabsa-spiced brown rice, raisins, carrots, pistachios, walnuts and slivers of almond. When attacked with a fork, the crispy crust explodes onto the plate, leaving a heaping mound of meat and rice complemented by a side of creamy garlic-yogurt-cucumber sauce and a salad of raw cucumbers, onions and roma tomatoes in a lemony vinaigrette. Good luck finishing this feast in one sitting.
Saffron Curry Chicken
Paired simply with a neat pile of white basmati rice, this understated dish showcases a vibrant tomato- and cream-based sauce swimming with the unmistakable taste of saffron along with garlic, ginger, garam masala and other tandoori spices. The sauce practically begs to be soaked up by a piece of the house-made naan.
This superstar dish features 10 gloriously plump dumplings stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, onion, parsley and a unique Middle Eastern seven-spice blend featuring cumin and a sprinkle of cayenne for nice bit of heat. The happy little dumplings are steamed then are finished off in a thick, buttery tomato sauce and topped with a healthy dose of creamy garlic yogurt and parsley.
The qali stew is generously filled with slow-simmered beef and green and bright orange bell peppers. Its dark tomato sauce is salty, rich and heavy with garlic and oregano, perfect spooned over the accompanying side of white basmati rice and balanced by a zesty cucumber, tomato and onion salad.
The only hiccup in the operation is the lack of a dedicated lunch menu, which is still in the works.
Matt Berkley is a longtime critic and contributor to Sauce Magazine.
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