The Bay Hill Shopping Plaza, on the northeast corner of Sand Lake and Turkey Lake roads, is quickly becoming a destination for foodies with global palates. India (Memories of India), Vietnam (Rice Paper), China (1-6-8) and now Syria are represented in all their strip mall glory.
Taboule Café is part market, part diner. Chrome baker’s racks stacked with an assortment of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foodstuffs, from lemony sumac powder and sesame seeds to fragrant rosewater and Turkish coffee beans, occupy half the space. Refrigerators on the other wall stock frozen goods as well as salty halloumi cheese – delicious grilled with a bit of olive oil, paprika and lemon juice.
A few tables by the entrance are often filled with diners enjoying pies, kebabs and sandwiches like chicken and lamb shawarma, the succulent meats shaved off mini-rotisseries situated behind the front counter. The falafel ($5.99 for a sandwich), always a true gauge of a Middle Eastern restaurant’s worth, are perfectly crisp, some of the best you’ll find in town. Just as good is the hummus ($1.99) and the kofta plate, kebabs of nicely spiced ground beef ($8.99). Kibbeh, fried balls of bulgur wheat and ground beef ($8.99), weren’t the best I’ve had, and while the cheese pie ($1.99) didn’t compare to its Greek counterpart, it still made for a worthwhile snack.
Early risers can opt for traditional Syrian breakfast staples like foul mdamas (fava beans with tahini), teskia (a hot bread made with chickpeas, tahini
and garlic) or scrambled eggs served with nakanek, a seasoned beef sausage. Whatever you choose, a cup of Middle Eastern coffee is sure to supercharge your day.
(Taboule Café, 7645 Turkey Lake Road, 407-226-3111)