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Juliana - Albert Oscar Baba, Belly Dancing and Ray Price

Juliana - Albert Oscar Baba, Belly Dancing and Ray Price
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  • Juliana - Albert Oscar Baba, Belly Dancing and Ray Price

    Post #1 - September 5th, 2004, 12:40 pm
    Post #1 - September 5th, 2004, 12:40 pm Post #1 - September 5th, 2004, 12:40 pm
    My girlfriend's parents are in town for the weekend, and it was her mother's birthday last wek, so we decided to take them out for an exciting night on the town the likes of which would be difficult to come across in Wichita KS. After ruling out chicago-style pizza, and korean BBQ, I had a moment of inspiration - a night of postcolonial exotica at Juliana, the Assyrian restaurant and night club at Peterson and Sacramento. You may have seen it on such WTTW programs as "Check, Please".

    The show starts at 9:30. We arrived at 8. There were no customers in the restaurant; 15 waiters in cummerbunds and vests smoked at the bar, the manager flitted around in a dapper suit, and the belly-dancers, still in their civvies, were eating dinner at the only occupied table.

    Cocktails, a bottle of water, some ho-hum complimentary hummus, more cocktails, then a veggie sampler and a plate of assyrian kibbe got us started. Standouts in the veggie plate were a ground walnut relish, roasted eggplant and cold spinach, plus a pleasant tabbouleh and two really fabulous tiny balls of felafel. The assyrian kibbe was delicious - a bulghur pancake stuffed with ground lamb and cumin and cinnamon, aromatic and savory, with a sour spicy jalapeno relish (the edges of the jalapenos glowed under the blacklight - as did Kerensa's gin and tonic, but don't take my word for it, try it yourself).

    By then it was around 9:00 - 2 other tables had customers, we ordered our main courses and had another round of drinks - everyone was feeling pretty good. I ran into the manager on the way to the bathroom and told him it was the mother's birthday, and he pulled out a sheet of paper and pack of Dunhills, and used the cigarette box as his writing desk to take down her name "RUSTY/BD TABLE 17".

    Main courses came in - my lamb chops were a little dry, the flayed drumsticks they sell as "chicken chops" were better, but best of all were the kebabs, especially the chicken, large red crusted chunks of juicy breast meat, and the kofta kebab, ground seasoned lamb. All this came over OK rice, with tasty turnip pickles and al-khaymeh style pita.

    Another drink for the lushes at table 17, and the band started to play, accompanied by synchronised laser light/fog machine effects. Then, internationally renowned recording artist Albert Oscar Baba stepped up to the mike, and dazzled us with his assyrian light jazz vocal riffs. The belly dancers, still in form-fitting night-club wear, became overwhelmed by the music, and couldn't resist a choreographed prance around the dance floor, a little teaser of what was to come.

    We began to get a little sleepy after the band's first set at 10:15 and asked for the check. "OH NO - you're not leaving yet! Maybe after the belly dancers are finished I'll let you leave. THERE IS A SURPRISE COMING!" So, those that wanted drank again, and we hunkered down for the long haul.

    Albert Oscar emerged once more with the lovely Adriana in tow, a silicone-enhanced Persian beauty, decked out in green silk and rhinestones, with an alarmingly low waisband and an artfully exposed back. She danced unadorned, hips switching like mad, then put a sword on her head, and slithered across the tiles, then in what must be an avant garde twist, danced with a gold-painted curved cane, twirling and tossing like a drum majorette on speed. There were 10-12 tables full now, and Adriana gave each personalized attention, a smile and wink, a jiggle and a shake. I was, needless to say, entranced.

    And then, while my brain was still agog from the undulations and the ululations, Albert Oscar Baba, internationally renowned recording artist, announced "We have a birthday! Where is Rusty?". He sang a rendition of the birthday song that would put Wayne Newton to shame, then sang it again in Arabic. He might not have actually been on one knee while singing, but he gave the impression that he was. Rusty giggled and blushed. Then 4 pieces of baklava with one shining candle came out from the kitchen, and Oscar Albert exhorted Rusty to make her wish and blow.

    She did, we ate the baklava, and started to stand up, when once more the waiter stopped us and said "NOT YET, THE SURPRISE ISN'T FINISHED". Albert Oscar approached once more, and invited Rusty and her beau to grace the dance floor. He serenaded her with a bossa nova version of Ray Price's "The Good Times", and when he noticed Rusty singing along, he brought over the mike and she sang harmony to his melody, fulfilling her life long dream to sing in a nightclub in the big city.

    Then we sat down, and we started to leave, and the manager tried to stop us. This time I pushed past - the baklava had already come, but thanks so much for all you've done. $ 234 for 10 drinks, dinner for four, three bottles of water, 15% gratuity included and enhanced, and 5 bucks for the valet on the way out. And the food was actually very good. Thank you, Ray Hananiah.

    Juliana is open 7 Days a week, frisatsun, Albert Oscar and his band perform with dancing girls, music starts at 9:30, belly dancing around 10:15, 3001 W Peterson. Appropriate Attire Required, though we weren't turned out for having jeans and short sleeves.
  • Post #2 - September 5th, 2004, 4:13 pm
    Post #2 - September 5th, 2004, 4:13 pm Post #2 - September 5th, 2004, 4:13 pm
    Seth,

    What a place! Good food, belly dancing, birthday baklava, Albert Oscar and his assyrian light jazz vocal riffs topped off by the lovely Adriana dancing with a gold-painted curved cane. How can one resist Juliana?

    Speaking of Middle Eastern nightclubs, there seems to be another just East of Katsu on Peterson, Prestige. An unassuming doorway, no indication of what's inside, which opens into a large, wildly decorated, and I'm talking salmon colored tablecloths, turquoise napkins, disco ball chandeliers, large mirrored reliefs of (if memory serves) palm trees and camels on the wall, room.

    We chatted briefly with the vibrant owner, Joe, who referred to himself as a night-boy. Joe said Prestige had been up and running a few weeks, this was about a month ago, and that he had been in the business for years, though this was his first time as an owner.

    Food is served, there was set-up for a band, but, and after reading Seth's amazing review of Juliana, this no longer seems unusual, basically no customers when we popped our heads in around 9pm on a Thursday. Prestige seemed fully staffed, waitresses, bartenders etc, and Joe said they get quite busy later in the evening, especially weekends.

    Given Seth's review, Juliana is high on my list of places to try, but Prestige may be another good option for lovers of Middle Eastern nightclubs.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    [Edit: I drove past Prestige this evening, I was mistaken about the unassuming doorway. There is a large canopy with their name and Mediterranean Cuisine.]

    Prestige
    2639 W Peterson
    Chicago, IL
    773-728-7000
    Last edited by G Wiv on September 6th, 2004, 6:44 am, edited 3 times in total.
  • Post #3 - September 5th, 2004, 4:42 pm
    Post #3 - September 5th, 2004, 4:42 pm Post #3 - September 5th, 2004, 4:42 pm
    Seth,

    Spectacular birthday party for Rusty of Wichita, KS. You gave her something to talk about for years. If she forgets, then your post fills in all the blind spots.

    I went to a Serbian restaurant dinner club earlier this year. We had somewhat similar experience of being nearly the only patrons until the show begins at 9:30. Those in the know understand it is pointless to come any earlier.

    I've been to the White Nights (Russian) dinner club, where we came early very intentionally. Once the live music begins it is so loud you cannot hear yourself think.

    I guess I need to do the Assyrian dinner club sometime soon.

    Thanks!
    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 #4 - September 5th, 2004, 7:36 pm
    Post #4 - September 5th, 2004, 7:36 pm Post #4 - September 5th, 2004, 7:36 pm
    Cathy,
    Can you tell us more about the Serbian place? Thanks.
  • Post #5 - September 5th, 2004, 8:12 pm
    Post #5 - September 5th, 2004, 8:12 pm Post #5 - September 5th, 2004, 8:12 pm
    Hi,

    This is a post from March by David Dickson at Skadarlija Restaurant

    Skadarlija Restaurant
    4024 N. Kedzie
    Chicago, IL 60618
    Tel: 773/463-5600
    www.skadarlija.com
    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 #6 - September 6th, 2004, 11:26 am
    Post #6 - September 6th, 2004, 11:26 am Post #6 - September 6th, 2004, 11:26 am
    Thanks for the link.
  • Post #7 - July 7th, 2011, 10:11 am
    Post #7 - July 7th, 2011, 10:11 am Post #7 - July 7th, 2011, 10:11 am
    Hi,

    I pass Juliana all the time, though I have never been in.

    Does anyone have any current experience?

    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

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