Like a food shack that's on the beach

TAKEOUT

Rather than fries, Kabobbi has food of India and Pakistan

October 29, 2003|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

On a recent Sunday afternoon, it was easy to momentarily mistake Kabobbi in Fells Point for one of those great shacks at the beach where fried clams and milkshakes can be had. You walk up to a window and order your meal. A few tables and chairs are arranged under a shelter. You watch the guys slap your order on the grill.

But instead of boardwalk fries, Kabobbi offers a menu of Indian/Pakistani specialties. And instead of the beach, there is Thames Street, at the heart of a part of Baltimore enjoying a burst of revitalization.

The carryout, open for a month now, prepares its food to be halal - conforming to Muslim dietary law. What we ordered was flavorful and plentiful. But it took a few tries to get something to eat because several items listed on the menu were not available.

Of the several vegetable side orders on the menu, only chickpeas were available. Kabobbi also boasts four homemade chutneys: coriander, yogurt, mint and plum. But yogurt was our only choice.

Still, Kabobbi, nestled next to Sound Garden record store, is an urban treat that caters to Fells Point night crawlers (it stays open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) and offers delivery service to surrounding marinas.

Each offering is named for someone. For whom, we're not sure. We had a Chris Keboby ($4.99), described as "skewered halal ground chicken." The two long sausage-shaped kebabs were savory and tender. A wedge of lemon ramped up the flavor.

The entree came with an ample serving of long-grained biryani rice, cooked with green peas and the occasional chickpea, into a fragrant, slightly greasy, yet pleasing melange.

It was cushioned by a large, puffy bread called nan by our server, but referred to as chapati on the menu. Whether you say nan or chapati, the bread, charred just enough from its grill time, had an earthy texture and helped us catch nibbles of chicken and rice.

We ordered Tai's Tikka, a combination of skewered vegetables and halal lamb, but instead we got Dellaries Tikka ($5.99), which substituted chicken for lamb. No matter, it was a fortuitous mistake. The chicken, served in manageable chunks, had a smoked quality and was tinged the fiery red I associate with tandoori.

We also ordered chicken curry ($5.99), which didn't belie its name. Though tasty and well-cooked, the curry was none too lively.

We also ordered samosas, fried dough filled with potatoes and carrots. The samosas ($1.25 apiece) had been prepared sometime earlier and instead of a crispy, fresh-out-of-the-deep-fryer taste, these were doughy and bland.

Kabobbi's menu lists two desserts - kulfi (ice cream with pistachios) and rice pudding - but the restaurant had neither during our visit.

As for parking, well, it's Fells Point. Depending on the time of day, on-street parking can be easy or nearly impossible.

Kabobbi

Food: ***

Service: **

Waiting area: *** 1/2

Parking: *

Where: 1616 Thames St., Fells Point

Phone: 410-675-0004

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday through Saturday; credit cards not accepted

Prices: Indian and Pakistani appetizers and entrees from $1.25 to $7.99

Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *

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