Cheap Eats: Kabob Land
Find tasty baked flatbreads and grilled meat at the new Buckhead eateryThursday August 7, 2014 04:00 am EDT
This restaurant space at 3137 Piedmont Road gets around. After recent incarnations as a Neapolitan pizza restaurant Tartufo (at the peak of the Neapolitan trend) and the short-lived Ray's New York Pizza, now it is Kabob Land. It is a Middle-eastern restaurant from Elie Karam, one of the owners of Red Pepper Taqueria, which has a location next door. The décor and furnishings are inherited from the former tenants and remain unchanged from the style of a generic European airport café, complete with a drink fridge full of bottled cokes and waters. There's tons of blonde wood and minimalist IKEA chic seating.
Fire in the hole: Kabob Land's chef, Metin Karasalih, uses the brick pizza ovens (also from the former tenants) in the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant to make much of the menu, which is a mix of Turkish, Lebanese, and Greek cuisines. In a stroke of genius, Karasalih bakes long flatbreads ($11-$13) covered in meat and chopped nuts and serves them on wooden planks with a fresh lime. The crusts are seemingly made from the same fluffy and slightly sweet pita the restaurant makes in house every day.
By any other name: When it is not used as pizza dough, the bread is encrusted with sesame seeds and becomes the vehicle for the wide range of dips, such as the spicy tomato-based dip with chopped up nuts, the creamy and smoky babaganoush ($5), or the tangy and incredibly spicy feta dip ($5), tinged red with sun-dried tomatoes. There is a sample platter ($20) of all eight mezzes if you want to give them all a whirl, which you should because they are all excellent. The falafel ($6) here is the type that's incredibly green and crunchy; it's one of our city's best, if you are on such a quest.
Stuff on a stick: Kabobs are king here. Many are premade on authentic metal skewers and chilled in the lit refrigerated case in front of the open kitchen. Ground lamb, ground chicken spiced with exotic seasonings, hunks of juicy lamb meat, and the like serve as centerpieces to wraps, salads, and the enormous platters ($11-$15) that come with a simple salad of crunchy romaine, cucumbers, and tomatoes plus buttery white rice or the amazing, chewy bulgur flavored with tomatoes (and reminiscent of Mexican rice). Each platter is accompanied by a little container of thick yogurt sauce to swipe your meat in and, of course, plenty of that house-made pita, because a meal without good bread is not a good meal at all.