It’s been ages since I’ve had a meal at Persia Grill; the rather summery weather we’re having at the moment is not conducive to taking even the shortest walks anywhere in Makati. That said, I miss those platters of buttery chelow topped with kebab kubideh or kebab morg. I also my my regular doses of baba ganoush and salad oliveyeh, as well as those sweet, buttery, certainly inauthentic but oh-so-good slabs of sticky date pudding awash in caramel sauce.
Where I live, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food of similar caliber is virtually rare, possibly even non-existent. Or so I thought until I stumbled onto Stavros at the Festival Supermall.
Stavros’ Kebab and Mediterranean House is this particular establishment’s full handle and its aesthetic shows its Greek-ish, slightly Cypriot bent. A small photo-mural is set upon the blue walls, featuring the quaint white-washed villages and seaside views of the Med. But I’m not here for the interiors; I’m here for the food!
I started my meal with Stavros’s take on the classic baba ganoush. In this particular incarnation, the smoky-tasting roasted eggplant puree is given a tart twist by the addition of either lemon juice or lemon zest. Not bad, really, but I feel that the addition of lemon juice distracts diners from the smoky-rich character of the roasted eggplant. In my opinion, that rather bittersweet flavor needs nothing more than a sprinkling of coarse salt and a bit of ground chili to make it truly outstanding.
For mains, I recommend the excellent fish kebabs: good-sized cubes of creme dory fillet dusted with a tasty blend of ground cumin, salt, and black pepper. Each bite of fish is melt-in-your-mouth tender and is well-seasoned without being too pungent or off-putting. The chunks of zucchini threaded between the fish cubes add crisp sweetness to the meal having been cooked till just charred at the edges and simply seasoned with coarse salt.
All of the kebab meals are served with a scoop of rice (which, alas, I found too soft and mushy) and small cups of tangy, cool cucumber and yogurt tzatziki and a fiery sauce which I would assume is a cross between Tunisian/Moroccan harissa (seriously incendiary) and the milder Greek sauce called kokkinisto.
Save for the rice and the tart-ish baba ganoush, my meal was most satisfactory and I may definitely stop in another time. For one thing, the food is quite good; for another, the prices are relatively reasonable. And, finally, I am seriously intrigued by the falafel (chickpea fritter) – stuffed gyros. Ah, next time, then…
Stavros’s Kebab and Mediterranean House – 3rd Floor – Festival Supermall (beside Racks), Alabang, Muntinlupa.