A newish Lebanese place called Jamjar opened up back in October on Commercial Drive, just down the block from St. Augustines. I love Persian food (Cazba, etc), eaten a lot at Abdul’s BBQ, and also Anatolia’s Gate. All the food at these places are quite different, and I find it pretty fun to explore the differences.
I got takeout for dinner on a Monday night around 5:30pm and already people were filling the restaurant. It’s a small place that only seats around ~30 people. I saw that they had 33 Acres of Ocean Pale Ale on tap for only $5 a pint! (I hope that’s a real 20oz pint, although I suspect it’s probably just 16oz.) I decided to try three things:
- Muttabel (roasted eggplant dip)
- Makanik Plate (custom made beef & lamb sausages)
- Beef Okra Stew (okra, beef brisket, onion, cilantro)
Food comes in plastic trays shoved into paper bags.
My two entrees cames with “saj” bread. It’s rolled up like a little diploma! My diploma might say “Masters in Obsessive Food Studies”.
Unrolling the saj bread.
The bread is sorta like a cross between the soft cracker type of lavash and a flour tortilla.
Muttabel roasted eggplant dip. You can buy it in a plastic throwaway container or like this, in a reusable jar.
Surprise! How Middle Eastern to include some pomegranate seeds. Love it. The dip itself was creamy smooth, subtly seasoned but with an intriguing smokiness…almost like a burnt paper kind of smokiness but I found it increasingly addictive to eat with the saj bread.
Beef Okra Stew. You can order this with brown rice or with “vermicelli white” like I did.
The “vermicelli white”, which is white rice with short strands of vermicelli. Interesting texture but it got kinda hard and crunchy as leftovers the next day.
The beef and okra stew was very subtly seasoned. Okra was soft but still had that okra texture to it. The beef was soft but not quite tender. On the whole, it was ok as a stew but we found ourselves adding a fair amount of salt and some pepper to kick it up a bit. Good to eat with the saj bread though.
Makanik Plate of beef & lamb sausages. Comes with batata harra (roast potatoes), hummus and fattoush salad.
The hummus was the most creamy and smooth that I’ve ever had. I never process it to this level at home…maybe I should try now! I can truly say that this hummus kicks ass.
Fattoush salad includes lettuce, tomatoes, cucmber and little bits of saj bread. The menu said “saj crisps” but since I got this as takeout, the saj bread got all soft. Sorta like a bread salad at this point 😛 I think the dressing included sumac. Tasty!
The beef & lamb sausages reminded me of merguez from Killarney Market. The size and shape are similar. Tastewise, these are subtly spiced (I see a theme here) and on the dry side. Might’ve been better eaten fresh at the restaurant. Same with the potatoes, they tasted good but were possibly crisper when eaten fresh. The potatoes were Wicca’s favourite part of the meal, which makes no sense cuz she hates potatoes…
In a nutshell: I think their strength is their dips and veggies. I wouldn’t mind having a light vegan meal there of dips and bread with a pint of beer!