Friday, February 20, 2009

Asian and Middle Eastern - Two Must -Taste Little Restaurants in Fort Worth

I spent the day Wednesday painting outside on the deck. A real joy. But I haven't liked any of the photos of artwork I have taken lately, so today I am going to write about food. Specifically, about two fabulous small restaurants in Fort Worth.

Celaborelle is a Phoenician (Lebanese) restaurant in an old house on Hemphill, near Magnolia and the hospital district. I love restaurants in old houses, so full of character!

from the website: Celaborelle has been serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area with the best in Middle Eastern cuisine since 1997. Well known to be one of the world's healthiest, Lebanese food is something of a mystery to many people. Celaborelle provides you with an authentic, eye-opening mezze experience--a multitude of small dishes for one low price, which amounts to a tour of Lebanese cuisine, always fresh, always delicious. Whether you're a meat eater, vegetarian, or vegan, if you're an expert in Lebanese cuisine or a total newcomer, you will have a wonderful feast at Celaborelle. From our buffet line to our live action cooking station, which is all included in the buffet price, you can expect one of the best home-cooked meals you've ever had! And if you're in a hurry and need to order take-out, we offer a menu representing all our choices.

The buffet is definitely the best deal here at $8.95, less for children. In addition to the appetizers and many vegetable, meat and combination dishes on the buffet, it also also includes beef or lamb kabobs cooked fresh to order and the best made fresh for you falafel in Dallas-Fort Worth, perfectly crisp on the outside and tender, steaming and fragrant inside. I think I could come in and just have falafel with a side of olives and feta and be happy. But then I would miss out on the amazing melt-in-your-mouth eggplant, and that would be a shame. Batinjan mtabal, a charbroiled eggplant and tahini spread like babaganouj, is pleasingly garlicky and should not be missed. This place is a mecca for vegetarians or vegans, but also satisfies meat-eaters. We took our friends recently, a meat-eating family of four, and tested that. My 11-tear old daughter loves this place and is especially pleased with all the little dessert offerings, about half of which are some variation of baklava. Edward likes the pudding-like cake with rosewater. I'll just have another falafel.

Celaborelle has been closed for a few months or more a couple of times, but we are recommending it to everyone, dragging our friends in for dinner and hoping to help keep them in business. Bring your own bottle.

After seeing the baby ducks and squealing piglets at the Stock Show a couple of weeks ago, we drove around looking for some good (not-BBQ, non-cornydog, non-funnel cake) food for dinner, and we happened upon Thai Tina's, just outside downtown. It is the most non-descript building in a, well "unassuming" is putting it mildly, area. We would never have considered stopping, but when Edward read the name off the building, I said, Wait. I think I just saw that mentioned. And leafed through the FW Weekly I'd just picked up, which described it as "marvelous, authentic Thai food." We had to try it, and it did not disappoint. I had a perfect rendition of green curry with cocnut milk, vegetables and tofu, which I settled on remarkably quickly from the extensive menu. Most of the menu items come with the option of meats, seafood or tofu, something I have been seeing more and more, and which makes it really easy for people to order a variety when they have special diets, or just to get what they like. R looked carefully at the menu for quite a while, then announced that she couldn't find the California rolls. She was a little confused about what kind of Asian restaurant we were in, or expecting a pan-Asian menu. She then looked at the kid's menu and ordered the cheese sticks with fries. Well, Edward was wearing the smart daddy hat, because he then ordered the Pad Thai with tofu, mild, which he immediately gave R a sample of. She finished the meal standing at his shoulder with her chopsticks.

Monday our friend Marvin was in town from New York. We had introduced him to Celaborelle on his last visit, but when we called ahead, they were closed, so Thai Tina's it was. Several other friends joined us, including the family we had taken to Celaborelle last time, who had never tried Thai before. They shared the Pineapple Fried Rice with pork and liked it so much they ordered a second plate. Two appetizer sampler platters were quickly polished off. I ordered a variation of the curry I had last time; I couldn't help it, it was so good. (Next time I want to try the Grilled Salmon, served over avocado panang sauce, topped with steamed asparagus...if I can bypass the curry.) R had the same Pad Thai dish her dad had ordered before and pretty much demolished it herself. We were an even mix of vegetarians and carnivores, and everyone loved the place, even the three kids. Tina came to visit the table before we ordered and then came back to chat and check on us. We also hear that she makes a mean martini.

No website that I could find, but the address is 703 N. Henderson.

(NOTE: This review was done at the old location. The new address is 600 Commerce Street, Downtown Fort Worth.)

Thai Tina's on Urbanspoon

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