Open from noon to 10 p.m., closed Tuesdays. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] parking. Accessible by wheelchairs; American Express.Reservations are necessary. Take-out orders and catering.
In a recently published guide to dining, the Arabians Nights Restaurant on Connecticut Avenue is listed as "inexpensive." To be sure, that kind of description is always relative - but when the relatives are kids, it's another story, herein related:
Why, you may immediately ask, would anyone take children to a place with a name like that?
The answer is that unless one knew from a Washingtonian that it's a local fixture offering food, not belly dancers, one might not try it. Just as curiously, it's housed on the ground floor of a terribly staid-looking apartment building.
Inside, except for tiled floors and strings of beads dropping down in the doorways to the rest rooms, the decor is hardly exotic. The view from our grilled window was the side of another apartment building.
The service was immediate, attentive and gracious toward our trio of minors - our son, 10, his friend, 11, and our daughter, 8. The menu, however, was not nearly so friendly when it comes to children capable of eating reasonably-sized portions. There is an option to share a plate for $1 extra for a child over 8, but both diners might leave hungry.
Otherwise, except for the special for this particular Saturday - lamb shank with rice at $4.85 - the complete diners (that's with a small iceberg lettuce-and tomato salad, with lemon oil dressing and a dessert selection were in the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] $7.35 - $7.95 range.
If you can digest that, the remaining digestion is, pleasurable. While we were decimating a basket of Syrian bread (which, alas, came with margarine instead, of you know-what), the kids each selected the lamb shish kabab dineer at $7.55. That, accompanied by salad and a dune of rice, features chunks of superbly broiled lamb.
Though we never doubted the two boys' ability to make food disappear, even our daughter said she could have eaten more lamb. Meanwhile, my wife and I had decided to share an a la carte order of stuffed grape leaves, at $5.25, and one kibeh (ground lamb), also $3.25. The grape leaves were fine, but even to our untutored tastes in Arabic cuisine, the kibeh seemed dry.
Now before getting to the high point of this outing, here's a rundown of some of the other dishes, with a la carte and complete dinner prices:
Shish-kababulks will note that beef, too, can be speared here for $5.95 or $7.95. Stuffed squash with meat sauce, at $5.25 or $7.35, is called kusa. For the same prices there is stuffed cabbage, egg plant, chicken with wine and mushrooms or one-half chicken char-broiled. If curry's your flavor, there's jumbo shrimp or lamb or chicken, $7.50
Whatever main courses one elects dessert at the Arabian Nights is not to be skipped: From a tray of finky goodies, the kids' choices of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and a walnut-and-honey combination - both homemade, we're told - [WORD ILLEGIBLE] shared.
For five of us with cokes, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and Turkish coffees, the hill [WORD ILLEGIBLE] to $41.40 plus tip.