Left My Appetite in Afghanistan

Restaurant Review: Kabul

So for our date Saturday night, Jeff and I agreed to dinner and a movie in Old City. There were the Ritz theatres that showed independent films and we were indecisive until the actual showtime at 9:30 EDT (we wound up seeing Waiting for Superman, but more on that one later), but we both wholeheartedly agreed on our choice of restaurant: Kabul on the 100 block of Chestnut Street. Jeff had tried out a Chinese place next door to it and mentioned to me that he’d always wanted to try out Kabul, as he was intrigued by the fact there was Afghan cuisine and how it differed from what he’s been used to. As for me, I’ve eaten there more than a few times, and is one of my top picks in the city.

The two of us walked into the restaurant at around 7pm, greeted by the host, who promptly walked us to our table and seated us. For me, the vegetarian, I was very much limited to most of the eggplant dishes, although because it’s October, any dish with a pumpkin touch to it definitely has my vote. Lately I’ve also been going insane on the pumpkin beers/Oktoberfest beers, so why not? I wound up choosing the chalaw kadu ($15), which was spiced sauteed pumpkin pieces, topped with yogurt and served with white rice. Jeff, after much perusing, chose the korma-e-murgh ($16), or seasoned boneless diced chicken with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and selected Afghan spices, and also served with white rice.

I’d say the only downside to tonight’s visit in my eye was that the salad and the bread took a bit to come out, there was hardly a crowd this early this Saturday night, however, we only had gotten our salads JUST ahead of our main dishes. Of course, the long lead time allowed Jeff and I to get many a conversation in about our interests, and there was never a second of dead space, which is always good in a date. So in that respect I can’t complain.

Finally our dishes came out and while the pumpkin chunks required some serious dicing on my part (my goodness, they were WAY too big), the overall amount of pumpkin in the dish was adequate. Jeff was looking very pleased with his dish as well, mentioning it was quite flavourful. Bread tasted fresh, no issues with the salad, granted the dressing was a little bland, but whatever. The only other thing that I found annoying was the rice, it looked just a bit shiny, not sure if it had been recently cooked, or just a bit too much oil or whatever in there. For someone like me that burns 1000+ calories on Saturdays due to my long training runs, it may not matter, but for other types of calorie counters, it could. (Jeff engages in cycling as his physical activity and burns a decent amount himself.)

The ambience of the place was just as striking as it was when I last visited the restaurant and Jeff, whose visit was his first, was just as intrigued. Decorative banners, quieter music and dimmer lighting (the host lit our candle with a match) set the tone for an intimate setting. The back table was suited for larger groups where a hookah pipe could be passed around, but even if we were given one, I think both of us would have passed.

And because both dishes were so filling, yet so good, whilst I think we would have wanted to have some dessert, we both passed up on it. Although one comment of note, Jeff is allergic to most nuts, and every single one of the desserts had some sort of nut product in them. Seriously? I would have hoped there’d have been some alternate offering to the anti-nut (or nut allergy) crowd, as I think there are enough of them to warrant some different offering on such a menu.

I’d say being the perfectionist foodie I am, there were some kinks in tonight’s visit, but at the same time, the food itself was as always to die for, at least on my end, although I suspect from Jeff’s reaction he would probably agree with me. For sure he did mention he would return to this place, nuts or not.

As for the rest of the date itself, let’s just say it went extremely well. We grew closer, the film itself, whilst uneventful (should have known better given it was a documentary about America’s failing school systems) provoked quite a bit of discussion afterwards (and of course, some gasps during the film itself). We were chatting, we were having fun together, and we were both quite interested in each other. Finally we spent a bit of time together after seeing the film and it was clear as the night (or day?) that we wanted to do more city exploring together. Can’t say it could have gone any better for a third date.

Now I get to call the restaurant shots for our next one…decisions, decisions…what is a foodie to do.

Restaurant Info:

Kabul | 106 Chestnut Street | Philadelphia, PA 19106 | 215.922.3676 | Website

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