Saturday, September 8, 2012

Al Basha Mediterranean Grill in Webster, TX

Hey everyone! Tonight, I am going to continue writing about Chris and I's recent trip to the Houston area. This post is devoted to an excellent Mediterranean restaurant on the Webster-Houston city line that serves superb falafel! 

I have to admit, I tend to lack enthusiasm for my meal whenever I go to a restaurant that prides itself in its meat; their vegetarian options are all too often along the lines of "house salad" and "pasta marinara" which obviously can be made anywhere and by anyone. Not really enticing at all.

You may recall in a previous post that I discussed my excitement for going to Houston for Chris's birthday and how I found some amazing vegan restaurants to try out. Well, when I discovered that all of those restaurants were 30+ minutes from our hotel in addition to the fact that Chris's mom didn't want anything to do with them I pretty much gave up on finding somewhere we would all be happy eating. Fortunately, Chris took it upon herself and found Al Basha Mediterranean Grill on the Internet. And it was literally right down the street from our hotel.

After spending nearly the entire day at the Space Center, we mozied on into Al Basha unsure of what to expect. The restaurant presents itself cafeteria style. An attendant greets you at the counter and you tell them what you would like to order. Each plate is labeled and nearly all of them included a list of ingredients. If you aren't sure whether or not something contains meat or dairy, you can ask and they will know. Everything is prepared fresh in their own kitchen- and this is something that you can both smell in the air and taste on your tongue.

I ordered the Falafel Plate. It consisted of five hearty balls of falafel (theirs is made from a chickpea and fava bean combination) on a bed of lettuce and accompanied by slices of red onion and tomato. The plate came with two sides as well and I decided to try their Fried Cauliflower (cauliflower and oil) and Cabbage Salad (cabbage, spinach, carrot, lemon, and mint).

Honestly, I haven't had much falafel. I know, I know, such a shame. But the falafel at Al Basha was simply delicious. I sometimes feel like falafel has a really green flavor or that the onion overpowers it. Not this recipe. It was great. The plate itself is a small meal without including the sides. The fried cauliflower was, granted, as expected, like oily cauliflower, but it did taste very nice. And the cabbage salad was really good. I actually liked it a lot. The combination of the lemon and mint was very interesting. I had forgotten what the ingredients were by the time I sat down and started eating and spent the rest of the meal trying to guess what it was that was making it taste so unique! Looking at the take away menu, I realized it was mint. Very neat. Not what you would expect, at all.

A very hospitable employee graciously checked on his guests while they dined. He offered us complimentary hot tea he described as a mixture of black tea, fresh mint, and rose water. We all tried it and I actually enjoyed it much more than expected. I typically shy away from teas with rose petals in them, but I had not tried anything with rose water in it. I wasn't disappointed. The floral flavor was not overpowering, which it can often be. I would recommend trying it prior to sweetening it, though, as I found that adding sugar made the floral taste much more pronounced. I still drank it all up, though! 

There are many other veg-friendly options at Al Basha as well. Some other possibly vegan dishes on their menu include Tabouleh Salad (cracked wheat, diced tomatoes, parsley, onion, olive oil, and lemon), Fatoush Salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, onion, and pita), Grape Leaves (stuffed with rice and vegetables), Falafel Sandwich (falafel with lettuce, turnips, pickles, and parsley), and Veggie Kabab Pita (onions, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms in a pita). Again, I recommend double checking with an employee to ensure that these items are vegan prior to ordering them.

I ended up leaving wishing I could go back there regularly and it inspired me to try to find somewhere in Austin that serves similar food. If you're visiting the Space Center in Houston and need a veg-friendly restaurant to try, you could certainly find yourself winning at Al Basha Mediterranean Grill.

And with that, I will bid you adieu for the evening!

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