2.5 stars for Spanish & Lebanese eats at Alhambra in Kendall

 

2.5 stars for Spanish & Lebanese eats at Alhambra in Kendall

alhambra

Victoria Pesce Elliott

Advertised as “healthy Mediterranean cuisine,” the food at the charming Alhambra is as enticing as it is diverse. From gazpacho and guacamole to gyro and Greek fries, the nearly 100 items are about evenly divided between classic Spanish dishes and Middle Eastern staples. The two cultures haven’t co-existed this comfortably since before the Inquisition.

With such an ambitious menu it’s tough to do everything well, but there is plenty to satisfy. Owner Antonio Awais, a Coral Gables High grad whose mother is Spanish and father is Lebanese, hired two chefs to satisfy his hankering for the foods of his heritage.

Ambience: The West Kendall strip-mall space is charmingly outfitted with arched mirrors, rustic tiles, wrought-iron hanging lamps and cozy brick-colored booths. On weekends, a talented belly dancer entertains a family-friendly crowd that bridges cultures and generations. At night, the young servers in tight black jeans seemed more personable and capable than the daytime crew, but all are pleasant. (And most are more proficient in Spanish than English.)

What Worked

  • Toasted pita bread strips and a super salty Kalamata olive tapenade 
  • A generous mezze platter - a six-sided star plate beautifully laden with smooth and creamy hummus, whipped babaganoush, golden falafel, tabbouleh, tahini and tender vegetarian grape leaves
  • Nicely browned kibbe studded with pine nuts
  • Satisfying Bistec Alhambra, a 12-ounce rib-eye
  • Plump Pollo Alhambra - a gorgeously roasted, amber-colored half chicken with crispy onion rings, shallots & sautéed button mushrooms
  • Juicy lamb kebabs are juicy
  • Thin, but tasty, lamb chops
  • Nutty jasmine rice mixed with fried vermicelli
  • Well handled garlicky couscous with fresh spinach
  • Nicely crisped, fluffy in the center, petite patatas bravas drizzled with pepper sauce and flavorful aioli
  • Addictive Greek fries - crisp, pencil-thin sticks topped with creamy feta cheese, loads of fresh parsley and a touch of lime
  • Big, bright and fresh (albeit a bit generic) salads
  • Don't-miss flaky baklava
  • Always on hand friendly owner and manager

 

What Didn't Work

  • Overwhelming, too-fishy bacalao fritters
  • Anemic tomatoes and commercial salad dressing
  • Shipped-in cheesecake

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