July 23, 2009

the phoenicians

Are you the type of person who gets hooked on a type of food and eats it at every opportunity without getting the least bit tired of it? I am. My obsessions usually last a month or two, sometimes less, sometimes more.


My latest fixation is the pita wrap--any and all Mediterranean-style chicken and flatbread combinations are welcome in my mouth (preferably not at the same time). It began with the chicken gyro from that little diner in Willis, VA, and has since escalated. That said, I’ve taken it upon myself to discover the tastiest Mediterranean pita wrap in the Albany area (so far I’ve found 13 potential restaurants). I realize this doesn’t interest the majority of you, but hopefully it’ll be a useful resource for my readers in the Capital District. (Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?) Plus, it gives me an excuse to eat a lot.

My first excursion took me to The Phoenicians Restaurant, which I picked solely due to its recognition as the Best Middle Eastern food by the Metroland powers-that-be. I’ll be the judge of THAT, thank you very much.


Upon entering the small building, the first things I saw were two vertical rotisseries, each slowly rotating a huge hunk o’ meat. That settled it--I’d have to get the chicken shwarma. I placed my order, requesting just tomato and lettuce as toppings, with the garlic sauce on the side.

Service was prompt, and before I knew it, I was gleefully ripping into my wrap. First impression, of the visual variety: Disappointment. The pita was thin and falling to bits, the tomatoes were anemic, and the chicken was sparse and didn’t appear to be very moist. I tried not to let the aesthetical let-down cloud my judgment of what was to come. Second impression, of the flavor variety: Dry and relatively lackluster. I could detect no seasoning in the chicken, which I guess I should’ve expected since it was shaved right off the spit. I added the sauce. Third impression, also of the flavor variety: Hello, garlic! This was some powerfully pungent sauce, and although it did provide some wet for my whistle and a whole lot of attitude, I just couldn’t seem to find a happy wrap-to-sauce proportion.


I need you to understand that this wasn’t a bad wrap--I had no trouble eating it in its entirety and enjoying myself as I did so. The highlight for me was the occasional crunchy bit of chicken; too bad they were few and far between. Meh, you could do much worse for $6.99 + tax. However, I certainly hope the eaters from Metroland sampled and were impressed by some other dish.

My mission has now taken a turn for the serious and I vow to find something better on my next trip.

The Phoenicians Restaurant
(located between Rt. 155 and Colonie Center)
1686 Central Avenue Colonie, N.Y. 12205
(518) 464-4444

38 comments:

KJ said...

LOL!! Just LOL!!

I love a doner kebab, but I am very particular about them. They must have substance - a thick (but not too thick) and slightly chewy pita that has been toasted, a solid filling of meat with lots of crispy bits and enough sauce to moisten with making everthing soggy:}

I shall follow your adventures with interest.

Amanda @ Mrs.W's Kitchen said...

I'm quite picky about my middle eastern food, so I'd have been sorely disappointed going by your description. If you ever get to Atlanta, Lawrence's on Buford Highway is unbelievably delicious. They spoiled me.

The closest thing I can find to decent middle eastern food here is a local greek place, which is very good (but not the same).

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Yum! I love toum (that garlic fluff stuff :P). Come to Sydney and we'll try some awesome Middle Eastern food ;)

Zoe said...

I recently went to a middle-eastern restaurant and had lamb kabobs. A bit dry, but still yum!

Barbara said...

Well Grace, I am not overly fond of Middle Eastern food. But I do get on food kicks like you do- months at a time before I tire of them. My latest is my roasted edamame salad; I just can't get enough of it.

jillian said...

I definitely get obsessed on certain types of foods. I am curious if you find an impressive place as I occasionally find myself in that area.

foodhoe said...

oh yes I am very prone to obsessing on a particularly delicious food. I always get sauce on the side too tho, cuz you never know if your assembler is going to be a hamfisted madman...

Pam said...

I hate it when you are looking forward to something so much, then you try it and it's not as good as you hoped. Next time.

Lisa said...

Fun review. I love a wrap with a thick pita. The thin one was probably a sign! My middle eastern obsession is falafel.

sliceofsueshe said...

Yum! I am now craving some mediterranean/greek/middle eastern food. My opinion on the pita - must be thick and fluffy! Nice dollop of creamy tsatsiki...some tabouli...hummus...ahhhh! It sucks that I can't get any of the good stuff out here in East Texas.

lisa said...

Good luck with your mission! We have a bakery/deli right in our 'hood called Phoenicia, and I now realize I don't go there often enough.

Gloria said...

Oh Yes Grace I have some obssesions food! of, course , a time only I want to eat baked potatoes stuffed with ricota cheese, never bored me! je! xxGloria

Gloria said...

I love pita too! Gloria

Melanie said...

I'm just wishing I lived in the Capital District. You should do a segment for Wisconsin. :)

Helene said...

Mine is chocolate but shawarma comes close.

pigpigscorner said...

Love middle eastern food, packed full of flavours! My current obsession is zucchini.

♥peachkins♥ said...

OMG! I love love love love Shawarma! There's this store here that sells the best Shawarma and I always buy there!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Doesn't your quest for the perfect something end when you make it yourself just how you like it? That's the way it usually happens here.

Jacque said...

Well darn! Don't you wonder, when you hear rave reviews of a place, then it doesn't live up to the hype?

Sorry this restuarant wasn't a hit, but your mission sounds like a fun one.

Danielle said...

I hope you find a place thats makes it right! pita shouldn't fall apart.

Toum is great (thats the lebanese name for it, it has different names in different regions)...but ya, its aaaaall garlic. It actually very easy to make, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and a food processor. Tastes great on everything...even steak :)

Robin Sue said...

Grace I am the same way. I am hooked on everything Asian now and can't get enough of it. I wonder if we crave certain things for certain reasons. No I am not pregnant or anything like that! Hopefully you will find a better restaurant that will be everything you hoped and more.

Jescel said...

oh.. my latest fix are the Rainier cherries.. I'm eating it everyday now since last week! Yum! can't get enough of it! lol.. sorry to hear about the pita.. i understand how disappointing it must have been...well, maybe you'll come up with a better one?

Jennifer said...

I'm totally the same way!!! :) That restaurant sounds GREAT!

Jessica@FoodMayhem said...

I don't usually get hooked to one food. I really love variety. But, when I was a kid my brother went through a pizza faze and ate it every day for about 2 months.

Daniela Restrepo said...

Surely some scientist has researched the phenomenon of eating the same thing repeatedly for a few weeks. Tomato soup is my vice.

Sophie said...

MMMMMMMMMM,..that sounds healthy & yummie to me!

giz said...

Ok, so I've been spoiled by the absolute best chicken swarma packed with a wonderful hummus and array of vegetables this side of the Canadian/U.S. border. Or maybe my standards are just too low :)

Dawn said...

when hubby and I lived for a stint in Wash, DC there was this little place (isn't that how it always starts out?) that served the best hummus and whatever the hell you want in them wraps. I kid you not I ate those for a month straight. I still crave one...to this day. Their hummus had such a twang to it that I could not duplicate at home.

Chef Jeena said...

Yes I have food fads too!

No wonder you are hooked on these, I must admit that I love breads and wraps like this too.

Eve said...

Thought you might appreciate this post :)

http://youngwivestale-eve.blogspot.com/2009/07/saturdays-at-eves-place-tend-to-be.html

Elra said...

ah... that is too bad that you a bit disappointed with your swarma. Hope you have a better luck next time.

Lori said...

I love shawarma. Did they have a pickle in it?

Man I tell you I have had some majorly good gyros and shawarma. Thats a total bummer when it is bleh. Here's hoping the next trip will be fruitful!

Albany Jane said...

Aw, bummer. I really hate dry, cracking pita bread. My favorite brand is (one I can't remember, uh, sorry!) but it's the ones that are made in Montreal and rather big - they are very thin but also nice and chewy... just delicious. I know Roma and Sabah market on Central Ave in Albany sell them... (Also, the Sabah makes really tasty wraps)

Hopefully your next venture will be a success!

The Blonde Duck said...

I am the queen of obsessions. And I get cranky when I run across a bad member, like this wrap, of my obsessions.

Jaime said...

i love middle eastern food...

Bridgett said...

Aw, better luck next time! I used to be horribly hooked on enchiladas. Thankfully that one ended before I packed on the pounds!

noble pig said...

You will find that perfect wrap...you will! Just persist.

Ingrid said...

Thanks for the tease! It's lunch time and I haven't gone yet. Now I'm starving and want a pita filled with Greek sytle grilled chicken, feta cheese, pepperoncinis, kalamata olives then sprinkled with herbs and drizzled with Olive oil & vinegar! MMMMMMMM
~ingrid