Saturday, March 22, 2008

Samar, Bali Lane

I had tried looking up this place sometime late last year when I visited Alaturka and saw that the older premise at Kandahar Street had closed. Stuck upon the doors, was a crude paper sign which read that they have moved to somewhere in the east side. So I was actually taking a stroll down to Cafe Le Caire and was surprised to come across the current location for Samar (17 Bali Lane, tel : 6398 0530). We decided to give these guys a try instead and pend Cafe Le Caire for another time.

I don't know how long has the establishment been located at the current premise in Bali Lane, but the feeling I got was that they hadn't been here for too long. They seemed to be out of several of the items on the menu and the place was quiet. Which made it a sanctum to escape the bustle of being at the outskirts of the city. In fact, in the second storey of the restaurant was a rug strewn area with low coffee tables that one had to enter without footwear. With a couple of shishar smoking customers around and the covered up windows, it looked like some sort of a Middle Eastern opium den. The place had such a getaway feel that we lingered around for more than a couple of hours, rooted to the peacefully atmospheric......albeit slightly musty smelling sanctuary.

The food in this place revolved around the usual styled grilled meats, Arabic flat breads, dips and various caffeine and milk based beverages. They were out of saffron and couscous for today which was a bummer. So we ended up getting a serving of the hummus and a grilled meat platter which I had originally thought to be a large serving meant for two. It turned out that it was probably just good for one hungry person. The hummus had more lemon juice than most but was otherwise quite the norm. It came with freshly made bread which were pretty good. What we liked was the lamb from the meat platter which was tender that when we tried to pick a rib up, the meat promptly slid off the bone. There was also a small potato which seemed to be infused with spices before it got baked resulting in a dull shade of orange-y brown rather than the usual yellow. I'll could come back for the lamb someday.

I was quite taken in with their honey milk drinks. Since they were out of saffron, we grabbed the almond and rose flavoured ones. The former was honey and milk blended with almond. It was a sweet milk which was lightly accented with almond flavour and many sediments at the bottom of the drink. I don't know how these guys did their rose milk, but it didn't look or taste much like bandung. The milk was actually snow white and the rose flavour was much more aromatic.

Service was slow but very polite. These people apparently take their time to prepare the food, but it did feel worthwhile assuming you were in not hurry to eat and leave.

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