Thursday, January 21, 2010

Toga Grill


Toga Grill
4439 Nelson Road
Lake Charles, LA
Monday to Saturday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM $1 to $10
We now have a family style Lebanese to compliment the family style Syrian. The owner of the Dollar Bee in the Market Basket Plaza on Nelson Road has split his shop in twain. On the grill side you have counter service (the menu above the counter) dining establishment with limited seating. The other side trucks on as before. The most popular thing here is the Toga Sampler. On the left end of the signboard is about twelve different appetizer style dishes. You can pick six of these to on the sampler. First time in I got kibbie, fried zucchini in yogurt, stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanoush, mujardrah (lentil and rice) and hummus. The kibbie consisted of a thin shell of Bulgar wheat with a meat and onion interior fried just right. The zucchini seemed more pan-sautéed and while tasty not my favorite. The rice and meat stuffed in the grape leaves with skordalia (garlic sauce) certainly met the standard. The baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) had loads of smoky eggplant flavor. The mujardrah seemed to be having a bad day and the hummus fantastic, full of flavor and very smooth. The dessert called nummuria came out as a baked semolina product soaked in a honey syrup, bit of texture and not too sweet. I finished with Turkish coffee. I cannot believe it but I now have three places to drink this wonderful concoction

Next time in I meet with some of the Eating Group. All got the variations of the toga Sampler. Additional items such as stuffed cabbage leaves, mousaka (eggplant and vegetables cooked in tomato), tzatziki (cucumber dip), and a Feta Salad were ordered. The salad consisted of greens, back olives, tomato, and feta cheese with a light dressing on the side. I ordered a Falafal Pita. Ground seasoned chickpeas formed into meatball size patties and deep fat fried. They are served with tomato, red onion, and lettuce wrapped in pita like flat bread, very nice

Next time in I got the lunch special. It was Lebanese sausage balls (ground meat with special spices) in flatbread with a side salad, hummus and fried potatoes. The balls (size of small meatballs) were not spicy but well seasoned and delicious. I also got a Fatoush Salad, which contained lettuce, cucumbers and tomato in olive oil vinaigrette with herbs. I ended with a homemade baklava whose crusts were of that same semolina product with a chopped walnut filling. Again not as sweet as most but an interesting texture and taste

I went one more time to taste remaining bits and pieces. I got tzatziki, mousaka, tabbouleh, cabbage rolls and mujardrah again. The cucumber yogurt dip, eggplant with tomato, and stuffed cabbage roll met all my expectations. However the tabbouleh and mujardrah stood out. Best tabbouleh I have had in years. The hint of mint in it made my day. The lentil, rice and onion dish was perfection, no bad day today. I also got some lentil soup. They seemed to have blended the lentils (yellow ones I suspect) until silky smooth with a lemon hit to it. I also tried the Meat Pie and Spinach Pie. The meat one was like a small pizza with ground meat sauteed with minced vegetables, well seasoned. The sauteed spinach and onions filling was in a triangular shaped tart. The dough used for both of these items suited them very well. Sturdy but tender with a yeast backnote.

As my fellow food guy Eric Cormier stated in his column this is great home cooking but not your mother unless she was Lebanese. Well worth the time and trouble to get.

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