Tuesday, November 29, 2005
One of two Afghan Rooms, with low tables and pillows to sit on the floor
I mentioned some flower pots, and sitting on the floor in my teaser and when people talk about the Afghan Horsemen Restaurant (445 W. Broadway, at Cambie St.), they generally concentrate on the ambience, and the romantic set-up of pillows on the floor and low tables, and draped fabrics on the ceiling, creating a very cosy and unique dining experience. However, I discovered on my first visit to this restaurant, that the food is fantastic too, and in my opinion, worth the visit alone. All together, it does make for a very nice second, third, or beyond date restaurant, or a fun place to bring a group. This restaurant has been around for an amazing 31 years! It's a definite keeper, and no doubt will be around for many more years. We reserved a spot at the pillows, and the restaurant was quite busy on a Monday night, including a large party and various couples that all shared the room with us.
I dined with Bac'n Girl and Definitely Not Bacon Boy, and we all started off with their drink special of the Mighty Horseman, either for two or for one. This big vat of several types of alcohol and fruit juice, served with two outrageously long straws (where do they get these?) to share was definitely good for a giggle or two.
The Mighty Horseman, for two
Not to feel left out of the sillyness, my single serving Mighty Horseman was also served in a ceramic plant pot, in the shape of three puppies in a basket no less! You can just see a bit of the white pot in the photo below.
Appetizer Plate that comes with the Horsemen's Special Platter: Humus & Sabzi Mast, Salata with Feta Cheese, and Whole Wheat Pita Bread
I shared the Horsemen's Platter for two ($43.95) with Bac'n Girl, which started with a delicious appetizer platter. While the dishes resemble typical Greek restaurant offerings, the flavours are a little different in the Afghan rendering, making the meal seem very fresh and interesting. Even the feta salad seemed tastier than I've ever had. The dressing really appealed to me. The sabzi mast is a tasty spinach and yoghurt dip. Definitely Not Bacon Boy ordered the three dip starter, and the chicken shish kebab, and enjoyed his meal too. Incidentally, I think this place would be a great choice to take a vegetarian, and the Vegetarian's Platter ($35.95) even looks tempting to me. They can even make it vegan on request.
Three Dip Combo: Humus, Sabzi Mast & Khayar Mast with Pita (on right)
Horsemen's Special Platter
Chicken Shish Kebab
I enjoyed everything on the main platter too. The meats - boneless chicken shish kebab, lamb shish kebab, lamb shoulder - were all tender. There was also tasty baked rice, baked eggplant, dolmah (cabbage roll), crispy Pakawra (batter fried potatoes), and Chaka (sour cream & yogurt dip). It was a generous portion for two hungry girls, and by the end, we were all stuffed and wanting to stretch out and nap in our little pillow corner, particularly since we were enjoying the effects of our plant pots of booze. So we're sitting there, over-stuffed like three Christmas turkeys ready for the oven, thinking we can't eat another bite. We even tell the friendly server that we don't have room for anything else. As soon as we send him away, somehow we all think simultaneously, "I wonder what they have here for dessert?" Two nice rice puddings, some cardomom tea, and turkish coffee later, we're sitting on those pillows, contemplating how we fit all that food into us. We also noted that choosing the pillow room rather than sitting at the regular tables was fun and more comfortable than expected, but makes it just a tad more difficult to get up after stuffing ourselves.
Service was excellent, and we never felt rushed. When I arrived for our reservation, our table candle was lit, ice waters already poured, and everyone was friendly. You remove your shoes for the Afghan rooms, and settle in to the cushions. These two elements by themselves makes it feel like you're being invited into someone's home who wants to show you the cuisine of their homeland. We spent about $128 before tip for the three of us, but I think it's very reasonably priced. I wish I had known about this place for my birthday, and I will keep this one at the top of my list for a group gathering or a nice, special yet casual, romantic evening.