It’s a long way — literally and metaphorically — from Tahrir Square to Bay Ridge.
As long-awaited change dominated headlines in Cairo last month, here, centuries-old tradition is alive and well — in Egyptian cuisine.
Some of the country’s most flavorful dishes — falafel, chicken kebabs, baba ganoush, humus — are also the most time-tested ones, and they were exceptionally pleasing at Fifth Avenue eatery Gyro Station.
You’re not coming here for the atmosphere — this is a take-out/eat-in joint with a few tables at the back, and an array of classic Middle Eastern dishes displayed at the serving counter at the front. And the paintings of a big city skyline and Coney Island on the walls do not carry the diner away to the sands of the Sahara.
But the food does.
Flattened falafels ($1.99 for an appetizer portion) are crispy and golden, with little chunks of chickpea still palpable in the dough — perfect foils to the tart yogurt dipping sauce that accompanied them.
The baba ganoush ($2.99) is subtly smoky, the way it should be, with the flavor of the flames that licked the eggplant’s skin gently permeating the mashed flesh of the vegetable.
Grape leaves ($2.99 for six) stuffed with rice are tart and refreshing, providing an elegant counterpoint to the richness of the baba ganoush and the humus ($2.99) — mashed chickpeas spiked with lemon juice.
Shawarma ($9.99 for platter with rice and salad) — lamb grilled on a vertical spit and shaved off — is succulent, the tender inside meat contrasting pleasantly with the lightly charred exterior.
Cubes of grilled chicken served on a bed of rice ($9.99 for the chicken kebab platter with rice and salad) are equally mouth-watering — delicate yet distinctive.
The portions are generous; mounds of yellow rice and large scoops of classic Middle Eastern-style salads — chunks of tomato and cucumber, tossed with lettuce and parsley — accompany the meat, which itself is too much for a single serving.
And the pace is amazingly relaxed for a restaurant that looked more like fast food than anything else. There was lots of time for conversation and conviviality both before and after the meal arrived.
Almost like the Eastern Mediterranean. Almost.
Gyro Station [6917 Fifth Ave. near Bay Ridge Avenue in Bay Ridge, (718-748-3271)]. Credit cards accepted. Open seven days, 11 am to 4 am.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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