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The Old Salam is the New Bab al Salam

The Old Salam is the New Bab al Salam
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  • The Old Salam is the New Bab al Salam

    Post #1 - December 15th, 2010, 8:02 am
    Post #1 - December 15th, 2010, 8:02 am Post #1 - December 15th, 2010, 8:02 am
    First, I did not post about this place because I felt I needed a few more meals under my belt. Then, I did not post because I could never remember the specials from the days when I was not there. Now, however, I have belated news that demands I finally get around to posting about Bab al Salam.

    Now, not being fully an expert on Arabic migration patterns in the Chicago area, I can offer that I have noticed an increased presence on the western and closer by suburban northwestern, segments of our metropolis. My family and I have taken advantage of this migration of good places closer to our home. For instance, we find excellent shopping at Middle Eastern Flair, 4311 N. Harlem, and not just because all shoppers get a complimentary falafel ball. Somehow, one day, we found ourselves a bit further west, to Cumberland, and we espied Bab al Salam in a strip mall. It had that combination of many people in dingy surroundings that caused my chowdar to ring-ting-tingle. There had to be something to this place. Little did we know that some of the something was that it was a new incarnation of everyone's favorite place from the old strip, Salam. I report this to report this. Not to take a side or an angle in the long Salam thread linked, not the least, because I have never been to the new Salam on Kedzie. Still, if you love Salam, old or new, you might want to check this place out.

    The Salam connection did not jump at me. Granted state law now prevents the smokiness of the old Salam. And Bab al Salam may be dingy, but it cannot match the dinginess of the old Salam. There are the daily specials, the upside down and mensef, but that's not that unusual, right? Really, the give-a-ways, or rather lack of give-a-ways are the prices and the green sauce. Bab al Salam is not especially expensive, but it is not the ultra bargain that Salam was. The green sauce here is a bit more diluted, almost like a salsa verde, instead of the very tiny chunks heat of Salam memory. So, on previous visits the Salam-ness was never guessed.

    How'd we learn. They told us. Well, it started like this, with the waiter. When we arrived for lunch yesterday we noticed our old friend from Dawali, who was our old friend from Salam. You all will recognize him too. He gave us a little story about how business was off at Dawali and the owner there thought that things could perk up if he hired instead pretty young women. We all reminisced about the days of Salam and enjoyed our lunch: a big bowl of standardly delicious yellow lentil soup; chicken shwarma heavy with curry the way I like, and the daily special of a mound of yellow rice accompanied by a platter of baked kefta, roasted potatoes and tahini gravy. When we were paying we chatted with the owner as we had chatted before. He never before mentioned Salam, but this day, when Salam was on our tongues, he revealed that yes he was indeed Mr. Salam. That he had built it. Run it. Tired of it. Retired from it all only to find himself bored and lonely of restaurant companionship. He had sold the Kedzie Salam and now he was in business several miles west on Cumberland, as Bab al Salam.

    As I mentioned, do not go here fully expecting Salam. Do expect, based on our experiences, excellent, homey Middle Eastern food, with an emphasis on daily specials. The usuals, like the falafal and hummus, more than hit their required notes. There also offer something not as usual, a falafel fried with hot sauce inside, something I've never seen before and as good as it sounds. I always liked the food a lot better than the comfort at Salam. This place hardly one-ups the old Salam on atmosphere, but we have found, always, much more warmth in service and feel. One of the reasons we kept on returning, without any knowledge of the Salam connection.

    Now, of course, we want to return even more. I need to hit all the daily specials, except for maybe Sunday. When Mr. Salam (before I knew he was Mr. Salam) gave me the rundown of daily specials, he told me that Sunday was family day, when the women did not cook and everyone came in for kebabs. Sunday special means kebabs, the same kebabs you can also get during other days. I bet more than a few of you will want to sample the old Salam which now the new Bab al Salam.

    Bab al Salam
    5050 N Cumberland Ave
    Norridge, IL 60706-2903
    (708) 779-5094
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #2 - December 15th, 2010, 9:49 am
    Post #2 - December 15th, 2010, 9:49 am Post #2 - December 15th, 2010, 9:49 am
    Vital Information wrote:He never before mentioned Salam, but this day, when Salam was on our tongues, he revealed that yes he was indeed Mr. Salam. That he had built it. Run it. Tired of it. Retired from it all only to find himself bored and lonely of restaurant companionship. He had sold the Kedzie Salam and now he was in business several miles west on Cumberland, as Bab al Salam.

    Bab al Salam
    5050 N Cumberland Ave
    Norridge, IL 60706-2903
    (708) 779-5094

    Thank goodness people get bored with retirement and end up returning what they did well. This same motivation is why we have Burt's, who founded Pequods, and the return of European Sausage to Milwaukee.

    Thanks for this report, it is a great present.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - December 15th, 2010, 10:30 am
    Post #3 - December 15th, 2010, 10:30 am Post #3 - December 15th, 2010, 10:30 am
    Excellent report. Do you know how long this incarnation of the restaurant at that location has been open?

    I have a foggy recollection of going to a restaurant near O'Hare four years ago while I waited for distant relatives to arrive from Jordan. A second uncle took me and my cousin there and I had a killer, I mean really killer (I had just come back from a long stint in Egypt myself) bowl of molukhiyeh. I didn't note where the place was and have been struggling to figure out ever since. The geography and description of the place (sorta dingy, reminiscent of Kedzie Salam) sounds right.

    Whatever the case, this place sounds great. Maybe I will hit it up on my way home from O'Hare one of these days.

    H
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #4 - December 15th, 2010, 10:45 am
    Post #4 - December 15th, 2010, 10:45 am Post #4 - December 15th, 2010, 10:45 am
    A great find and a great post. Thanks, Rob!

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #5 - December 16th, 2010, 11:11 am
    Post #5 - December 16th, 2010, 11:11 am Post #5 - December 16th, 2010, 11:11 am
    I work in this area, and Bab al Salam is a weekly must for me. The food is good and service is great. The atmosphere is divey, but it sure beats most of the other options around here. Highly recommend.
  • Post #6 - December 16th, 2010, 11:36 am
    Post #6 - December 16th, 2010, 11:36 am Post #6 - December 16th, 2010, 11:36 am
    Habibi wrote:Excellent report. Do you know how long this incarnation of the restaurant at that location has been open?


    A January 2008 Yelp review notes that the restaurant is recently opened. I don't know if "Mr. Salam" started the restaurant then or bought it from the original owner.

    I have to laugh at the idea of hiring pretty women to increase the customer base at Dawali. Service was terrible last time I ate there.
  • Post #7 - December 16th, 2010, 2:49 pm
    Post #7 - December 16th, 2010, 2:49 pm Post #7 - December 16th, 2010, 2:49 pm
    Darren72 wrote:I have to laugh at the idea of hiring pretty women to increase the customer base at Dawali. Service was terrible last time I ate there.


    It's (one of) the same mistake(s) they made at the old Salam.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - February 22nd, 2011, 3:29 pm
    Post #8 - February 22nd, 2011, 3:29 pm Post #8 - February 22nd, 2011, 3:29 pm
    I finally made it to Bab Al Salam for lunch today. It was like stepping through a time portal and being transported back to the Salam of old. Fresh falafel fried to order (with a new variant being offered which is stuffed wit onions and herbs), some lamb shawarama worth going out of your way for and lots of other goodies served in the manner of the original Salam by the original owner and waiter, as VI mentioned in his post. I'll be going back sooner rather than later and will bring a camera next time.

    The owner said that he may bring back the Tuesday Dolmades special. If that happens, I'll be organizing an LTH lunch at Bab Al Salam next Tuesday.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - February 26th, 2011, 4:38 pm
    Post #9 - February 26th, 2011, 4:38 pm Post #9 - February 26th, 2011, 4:38 pm
    Thanks VI for posting about Bab al Salam. I visited last week and was more than pleased. Falafel was fresh and hot, crisp and moist, and very well seasoned. Shawarma was a tad dry, but it was so flavorful . . . better than I've had at Dawali or Salam actually despite the slight dryness.

    Now I've never been as big a fan of Salam as others, but I'll also note that my first meal there was not until 2005, so I never ate there while the current owner of Bab al Salam was there. In any event, if this is the type of food that was found at the old Salam, I can certainly understand the love.
  • Post #10 - March 28th, 2011, 2:06 pm
    Post #10 - March 28th, 2011, 2:06 pm Post #10 - March 28th, 2011, 2:06 pm
    Finally made it over to Bab Al Salam recently and had a very enjoyable meal . . .

    Image
    Bab Al Salam - 5050 N Cumberland, Norridge


    Image
    Hummos
    A great rendition; creamy and garnished with pungent olive oil and tender, whole chickpeas.


    Image
    Torshi

    Tasty, complimentary pickles.


    Image
    Jerusalem Salad
    I really enjoyed this version, which was tasty in spite of the off-season tomatoes. It was dressed a little lighter than Pita Inn's version, which is my benchmark but it was every bit as good.


    Image
    Combination Plate (beef shish kabab, kifta, shish taouk and shawerma)
    A tasty assortment of grilled meats, most of which were quite moist. The shawerma was flavorful but a wee bit dry. The chicken (taouk) was suprisingly moist and delicious.


    Image
    Lamb Shish Kabab
    Really juicy, flavorful and tender. I thought this was the tastiest meat of the entire meal.


    Image
    Stuffed Falafil
    I'd heard a lot of good things about these stuffed falafil and they did not disappoint. I'm not sure what the "special stuffing" actually was (maybe some minced onion and sumac) but it was great. These were probably twice the size of the regular falafil at Bab Al Salam.


    Image
    Kibbeh Magliah
    Terrific; probably the best I've had. They were hot, crispy and far lighter than they appeared. I think that's the secret to properly-fried food, which is always comes off as very light. Just awesome.


    Image
    Falafil
    Tender, crisp, aromatic and light. These reminded me of the falafil on their very best day at the old Salam. A real treat.

    There were 8 of us at this dinner and service, provided by the inimitable Albert was as pleasant and delightful as ever. There's great pride of place and food burtsting out of the open kitchen at Bab Al Salam. It's not too far from where my office will soon be located and I look forward to lunching here on a regular basis.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #11 - March 28th, 2011, 2:36 pm
    Post #11 - March 28th, 2011, 2:36 pm Post #11 - March 28th, 2011, 2:36 pm
    Hi,

    I was there recently, too.

    The founding owner of Salam on Kedzie was there. This new location has been in business already four years. He had sold his interest in the original Salam in 2000. He returned to business after realizing he needed more money for retirement.

    In all the years I have been going to Salam, I had never met the founder. The people I knew were the second owners trained by the original. Things went downhill with the third owner of Salam who expanded and dressed it up.

    I didn't eat at Salam during my recent visit, because I already had dinner. My friend bought a chicken Schwarma who reported it was pretty good eaten the next day.

    When we were there, the owner advised he now serves dolmades on Tuesdays. I would call to double check.

    The owner was absolutely sure I was an old customer. I knew from his timeline, we had never met. I didn't argue whether we met or not before, why ruin his pleasure.

    This Salam is just south of the Kennedy on Cumberland Road. If driving south you passed the modern Greek Orthodox church, you just missed it. A great place to visit while heading toward or from the airport.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - March 28th, 2011, 3:18 pm
    Post #12 - March 28th, 2011, 3:18 pm Post #12 - March 28th, 2011, 3:18 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:When we were there, the owner advised he now serves dolmades on Tuesdays. I would call to double check.


    I would definitely call first regarding the dolmades. On several occasions he said he would have them "next Tuesday for sure", but then didn't.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #13 - March 28th, 2011, 4:19 pm
    Post #13 - March 28th, 2011, 4:19 pm Post #13 - March 28th, 2011, 4:19 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Image
    Stuffed Falafil
    I'd heard a lot of good things about these stuffed falafil and they did not disappoint. I'm not sure what the "special stuffing" actually was (maybe some minced onion and sumac) but it was great. These were probably twice the size of the regular falafil at Bab Al Salam.

    I believe Albert said that the stuffed falafel are stuffed with tomatoes, caramelized onions, sumac and pine nuts. Best falafel I have had.

    The shawarma must be a bit hit or miss in terms of moistness. The version I had last week was moist and the best version I've tasted in Chicago. Albert also said they make the hot sauce in house. It was quite good . . . just make sure to ask for it.
  • Post #14 - March 28th, 2011, 4:59 pm
    Post #14 - March 28th, 2011, 4:59 pm Post #14 - March 28th, 2011, 4:59 pm
    stevez wrote:
    Cathy2 wrote:When we were there, the owner advised he now serves dolmades on Tuesdays. I would call to double check.


    I would definitely call first regarding the dolmades. On several occasions he said he would have them "next Tuesday for sure", but then didn't.


    I spoke to him last wk regarding this dish (that I'm most anxious to eat again), he told me he'd consider having them once more but hadn't done very well with them in the past (@ this location). I assured him that if he did, and let me know, lth would be interested and more than likely make it worth his while. He told me he'd call me when he does it again. I will post for all to enjoy if he does.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #15 - March 29th, 2011, 8:33 am
    Post #15 - March 29th, 2011, 8:33 am Post #15 - March 29th, 2011, 8:33 am
    LTH,

    Enjoyable meal at Bab Al Salam, warm pita, turnip pickle and peppers, though no olives, amiable Albert welcoming and, considering a packed house for lunch, relatively efficient. Hummus, baba ghanoush, shawerma, shish kabab nicely executed with kibbeh a standout. Falafal crisp with moist herbal interior, though ever so slightly oily.

    Half chicken w/rice special had no spark, I'd venture it was a carryover from Sunday, especially when compared with a Salam Thursday special of crisp skin chicken bursting with juicy flavor served with rice, olive laden torshi and mloukhieh for a similar price.

    I found little difference in the "new" Salam, old Salam and current iteration of Salam Kedzie, though I never agreed with the transformed Salam down-hill alert. This is not to say I won't be back, and soon, to Bab Al Salam, its about the same distance from house house as Salam, though going west of Harlem Ave gives me the willies, and Albert, actually Abdul, on hand is a strong incentive.

    Couple of notes, hot sauce served was not made in-house but straight from the jar sambal oelek. I did not see the container but have been using the product for enough years to be 95% sure. Falafel are made in small batches, and as mentioned above, tasty, but there is definitely some holding going on, photograph available. As has been stated in the thread don't go to Bab Al Salam on Tuesday expecting stuffed grape leaf, call first and prepare to be disappointed.

    Please don't interpret my lukewarm post as negative, its just after reading the thread, and talking to people who had been, I was expecting Cedarland and got Salam, which is fine with me.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - March 29th, 2011, 8:51 am
    Post #16 - March 29th, 2011, 8:51 am Post #16 - March 29th, 2011, 8:51 am
    G Wiv wrote: . . . hot sauce served was not made in-house but straight from the jar sambal oelek. I did not see the container but have been using the product for enough years to be 95% sure. . .

    Just reporting what I was told, and it seemed slightly different than what I've been served elsewhere. But I certainly don't know for sure.
  • Post #17 - March 29th, 2011, 9:41 am
    Post #17 - March 29th, 2011, 9:41 am Post #17 - March 29th, 2011, 9:41 am
    BR wrote:Just reporting what I was told, and it seemed slightly different than what I've been served elsewhere. But I certainly don't know for sure.
    Quite possible you were served a different hot sauce made in-house, was yours green? We were served red?
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #18 - March 29th, 2011, 10:37 am
    Post #18 - March 29th, 2011, 10:37 am Post #18 - March 29th, 2011, 10:37 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    BR wrote:Just reporting what I was told, and it seemed slightly different than what I've been served elsewhere. But I certainly don't know for sure.
    Quite possible you were served a different hot sauce made in-house, was yours green? We were served red?


    Hey, my family and I ate here on Sunday. Surprised I did not see anyone.

    I think that Gary is right tha the red sauce, served when asked for hot sauce (and also what is inside the stuffed falafels) is just jarred sauce. What is home made is the green sauce, of chopped jalepenos and lemon. Unlike at the old Salam, however, the green sauce seems much more elusive. They use it to garnish, as in Ronnie's pic of hummus above, but they do not seem to be serving it as a condiment. In fact, the one time we asked for that hot sauce, we got a bowl that was way more diluted than what was served at the "Old" Salam. It's a shame too, as that green sauce was one of my favorite things at Salam.

    BTW, the closest thing to the Salam "salsa", outside of Salam, is the green table sauce at Islas Maria.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #19 - March 29th, 2011, 12:38 pm
    Post #19 - March 29th, 2011, 12:38 pm Post #19 - March 29th, 2011, 12:38 pm
    Maybe that's the confusion, b/c when I asked for hot sauce, he mentioned they make it in-house, but then brought me the red sauce . . . I assume that was the one made in-house. Sounds like I might be wrong.
  • Post #20 - March 29th, 2011, 1:00 pm
    Post #20 - March 29th, 2011, 1:00 pm Post #20 - March 29th, 2011, 1:00 pm
    I can't compare Bab Al Salam to the current incarnation of Salam (on Kedzie) because I haven't been there in a long time. I thought this meal was mostly terrific with some ok stuff, too. My biggest complaint was the shawerma, which was dry. After a single visit, it's impossible for me to gauge its consistency but I liked what I had enough that I'll definitely be returning.

    We were served the red hot sauce and it pretty much seemed like Sambal Oelek to me. During our visit, the 3 fried items were all made to order and they were brilliant. I'm not sure if that was a function of luck, timing or SOP. Most of my future visits will likely be carry-out so I'm not sure that element is going to matter very much.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #21 - June 2nd, 2011, 9:31 pm
    Post #21 - June 2nd, 2011, 9:31 pm Post #21 - June 2nd, 2011, 9:31 pm
    As a proud member of the anti-Salam-on-Kedzie contingent, I felt obligated to visit the Cumberland counterpart and make an effort at an unbiased opinion. Tonight was the night.

    I found everything to be a good notch above average, and the lamb kabob to be excellent. I appreciated the attention to detail that was a part of simple preparations of solid ingredients, such as the perfectly toasted almonds atop the rice. Baba ghanouj had a high percentage of chickpeas, but I like it that way. Tabouleh was fresh, and the Arabic salad had a tasty dressing. Fresh pita and fresh carrot juice = went home happy.

    I asked for the green hot sauce, but the waiter suggested the house-made red sauce instead. It is probably a bit tame for the average LTH palate, but I'm not a big spice guy and I ordered it mostly out of curiosity. It seemed much bettter than anything out of a jar.

    The boss says he is able to pay the bills thanks to a healthy lunch traffic from the neighboring office towers along the Kennedy, which are home to large telecommunications concerns. I do have to say that the location is not a convenient one for me, and I don't feel willing to bypass Semiramis to get there. But when I'm in the area, Bab al Salam will be right at the top of my list.
  • Post #22 - June 3rd, 2011, 8:42 am
    Post #22 - June 3rd, 2011, 8:42 am Post #22 - June 3rd, 2011, 8:42 am
    Baba ghanouj had a high percentage of chickpeas


    Must have been humus. Baba has no chickpeas.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #23 - June 3rd, 2011, 8:50 am
    Post #23 - June 3rd, 2011, 8:50 am Post #23 - June 3rd, 2011, 8:50 am
    Jazzfood wrote:
    Baba ghanouj had a high percentage of chickpeas


    Must have been humus. Baba has no chickpeas.


    You are most certainly correct from a "recipe" standpoint but I ate here a couple of weeks ago and ordered tabbouleh which was served with cucumber in it--never seen that one before!! So, I would contend that anything is possible... :D
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #24 - June 3rd, 2011, 9:24 am
    Post #24 - June 3rd, 2011, 9:24 am Post #24 - June 3rd, 2011, 9:24 am
    Cucumber in tablouli, while not standard, is not unheard of. In fact, the original recipe I got from Arabic friends back in the mid 80's had it. Used to be a place on Montrose or Irving Pk just west of Ashland called "Tasty Eats". Open until 2 am. Spent many a late nite there. That's how theirs was prepared.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #25 - June 3rd, 2011, 12:46 pm
    Post #25 - June 3rd, 2011, 12:46 pm Post #25 - June 3rd, 2011, 12:46 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:
    Baba ghanouj had a high percentage of chickpeas


    Must have been humus. Baba has no chickpeas.


    Since my friend ordered it, I didn't inquire too strenuously. I just tasted a little. It was different from other versions I have had. She felt the same way. There wasn't that much eggplant. But it certainly had the smoky flavor one associates with baba and not with hummus.
    Last edited by TomInSkokie on June 3rd, 2011, 2:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #26 - June 3rd, 2011, 1:05 pm
    Post #26 - June 3rd, 2011, 1:05 pm Post #26 - June 3rd, 2011, 1:05 pm
    Both baba ganoush & hummus have tahina, sesame paste. Maybe that's what you meant.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #27 - June 3rd, 2011, 2:36 pm
    Post #27 - June 3rd, 2011, 2:36 pm Post #27 - June 3rd, 2011, 2:36 pm
    Vital Information wrote:Both baba ganoush & hummus have tahina, sesame paste. Maybe that's what you meant.


    Thank you. That makes sense. There was less eggplant in this baba, and so the percentage of tahini must have been higher.
  • Post #28 - August 9th, 2011, 10:03 pm
    Post #28 - August 9th, 2011, 10:03 pm Post #28 - August 9th, 2011, 10:03 pm
    Just wanted to say that Bab Al Salam is serving very fine "neighborhood" Middle Eastern Food
    (in a predominantly Eastern European/Polish part of town) - even during Ramadan.
    Albert (aka Abdul) is the very same friendly ,funny, warm waiter that we came to know at Salam-
    then later when he worked for Chef Nasir @ Dawali!

    We had some fallafel balls + tahini + Green Hot Sauce (same flavor/heat as @ Salam on Kedzie) and green olives and
    turnip pickle to start. The fallafel balls were well cooked- freshly made- and at .30cents a pop-
    quite the tasty "starter" course!

    The Chicken Shawerma Sandwich (served as a plate of meat/inside out...) was quite moist- and richly flavored.
    The Hummus with Meat was not my favorite dish here. Maybe Chef Nasir has spoiled me with his "huskless" garbanzo bean hummus,
    but the taste and texture were not as rich as I prefer- and- the use of a lower grade Olive oil, to me- is a real
    "point reducer" in Middle Eastern Cooking. Simple dishes- need Stellar Ingredients!
    Also- the meat they used appeared similar to a Carne Asada [quote][/quote]style of beef- but was too chewy for my liking.

    Go and give this place some love - because they deserve it- and frankly- seemed kinda slow-and could use the business,
    especially, given that for dinner hour- we were Abdul's only table (later, another 2 top strolled in though).
    Daily Specials posted on a signboard as well!

    Bab Al Salam Restaurant
    5050 N. Cumberland
    Norridge,IL. 60706
    708.779.5094
  • Post #29 - January 27th, 2012, 1:23 pm
    Post #29 - January 27th, 2012, 1:23 pm Post #29 - January 27th, 2012, 1:23 pm
    Sometimes, I'll go to a restaurant that some LTHer raved about and not think very highly of it. [I know, there's a whole thread on this topic and some day when I have some spare time I'll add my .02 to it.]

    And sometimes, I'll go get a meal and leave wondering "What restaurant did those other people eat at? What I just had totally sucked!"

    That was my experience yesterday. I have a lot of respect for the people who posted on this thread, but I have to ask "Where the fk do YOU people eat, because that bears no resemblance to the crap I ate yesterday!"

    I'd had a pretty mediocre meal from this place once before. But I live in the neighborhood [more on this later] and read this thread and thought I'd just been there on an off night. Being in that strip mall because I had just donated blood & wanted some red meat as a reward, I figured that you all are right and I was wrong, and I should go in & get a big take-out order of shawarma.

    What I saw behind the counter were 4 or 5 young men trying to serve up the food. They were very confused as to what went with what order, and no-one seemed to be in charge of the cooking. There were cold falafel sitting around waiting to be re-heated. The shawarma cone wasn't being attended to, and there were burned spots on it, some of which ended up in my meal. I wasn't watching closely when they cut, or I would have told them to cut the burned parts off. They cut some shawarma off of the cone and heated it up in a frying pan on the stove. When I questioned this part, they told me they always did that to cook the meat all the way through, and that I was confusing shawarma with gyros.. I have never, ever seen this done before, and I am no stranger to shawarma. I have not voluntarily eaten a gyros sandwich since I discovered how much more I like shawarma. After the meat was heated & toughened in the frying pan, they dumped it into a container with some rice, a bit of sliced onion and a dab of tahini. No offer of any kind of sauce. They shoved 2 pita into a bag with their bare hands, after tossing it around un-wrapped on the counter for a bit.

    I also ordered a Jerusalem salad. It was old & had that mushy texture veggies have when they've been sitting in dressing for too long. The tomatoes were the saddest, mealiest winter tomatoes I've ever eaten. I know you don't get good tomatoes this time of year, but you can f'in TRY. Get some Romas and let them ripen. Get some hydroponic ones. Make some effort in the name of the Holy. The pickled turnips were the only torshi [sp? google wasn't helpful] offered, and they tasted like paint. I couldn't eat them.

    And the portions weren't all that great.

    Seriously, it was a bad meal. There's no excuse for burned shawarma, even if you want to make an excuse for a bad batch of turnips or the budgetary aspects of winter tomatoes.

    Where have you other people been eating???

    Also: I grew up in this neighborhood. I went to kindergarten literally 2 blocks away from this restaurant. I was glared at as an intruder by all but one of the under-30 men - customers and staff - in this restaurant. I don't like people trying to make me feel uncomfortable in my own damned neighborhood. I'm a neighbor, I'm a customer. Have some fking respect.

    End of rant.

    Almost.

    I am pissed that some of you manage to get a good meal here and I can't. I loved Salaam in the old days on Kedzie. When I lived in THAT neighborhood, I never necessarily felt that, as an unaccompanied woman, I was incredibly welcome, but I was always treated politely. I'm not saying that any of you would have gotten a better meal last night, because I think the D team was working in the kitchen, but I would have liked this to be a neighborhood resource for me. And after last night, I'll never try again.

    Giovanna
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon
  • Post #30 - January 27th, 2012, 1:31 pm
    Post #30 - January 27th, 2012, 1:31 pm Post #30 - January 27th, 2012, 1:31 pm
    Easy answer Giovanna: the old Salam/new Bab al Salam . . . is really neither anymore. The staff has completely turned over and I'm not even certain the ownership is the same. My last two meals there were terribly underwhelming (similar issues that you raise) and I will not be returning. So while I believe you that your meal was poor, please realize that your experience months ago would most likely have been dramatically different.

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