A Good Spread
For best results, stick with the small plates.
Walnuts, pinenuts, and peppers are ground into a rich, buttery spread with the sweet-and-sour note of pomegranate molasses weaving them together.
The Armenian version of baba ghanouj, the lemony eggplant dip is lightly smoky with a hint of sesame and studded with pomegranate seeds that pop with sweet juice.
Lentil Kefta ($9)
A Lentil Kefta ($9) made with pinenuts and bulgur wheat lacks brightness or texture, for that matter, unless you count the ridges left by the cook's fingers as the dumplings were formed.
Lentil Soup ($7)
My wife got totally lost in Almayass' Lentil Soup ($7), a thick, multi-layered bowl of comforting flavors—rice, lentils, and fried pita bread softened to a savory porridge-like consistency.
Beef Tongue ($13)
As president, founder, and sole member of the World Wide Association of Tongue Lovers, I can get behing the Beef Tongue ($13), which looks a little gristly, but melts into intense, beefy richness in your mouth with a simple dressing of garlic, lemon and olive oil.
Basterma Almayass ($11)
The lightly sour and well-seasoned Armenian pastrami variant known as Basterma ($11) was outstanding with its fried quail egg topping on one trip, but unfortunately overcooked on another. Similarly, soujuk ($10)—a salami-like sausage—was too overcooked to enjoy.
As with the lentil kefta, the fried Falafel ($7) was overly dense and underseasoned. More of that bright tahini, please.
The Mediterranean middle section of their menu is your best bet for meat and hot dishes. Little Ferri—fried quail—are a steal at $6. Crisp and juicy with an intensely lemony sauce flavored with garlic and pepper.
Lamb Sweet Breads ($14)
The Lamb Sweet Breads come in all of their creamy, glandular, offal glory—no crisp coatings or other ingredients to hide their nature here—all you've got is a lemony, olive oily, sumac-dusted broth that sops into their nooks and crannies like garlic butter into a snail.
Sweet and Sour Kebab ($29)
Of the four kebabs I tried, the Sweet and Sour ($29) was the only remotely enjoyable version, and only then because of the massive pile of sour cherries piled on top of the otherwise dry, bland meat.
Kafta Kebab ($22)
I'd strongly advise against heading into entree territory, but if you must, avoid the Kafta Kebab ($22) at all costs. Mind-blowingly dry beef served over improbably dry pita (despite a swipe of a spicy sauce), with a large handful chopped parsley (also dry), I practically begged my server for olive oil or a wedge of lemon—anything to add some moisture.
Mint, rose, and coffee sorbet are all strangely stretchy and gummy with an intensely cloying sweetness.
Ossmalieh Almayass ($12)
I can't pretend to be a great judge of Middle Eastern desserts—they are an acquired taste for which I've just never acquired. I can say that I enjoyed the Ossmalieh Almayass ($12)—a next of crisp vermicelli soaked in milk and honey topped with a Cousin Itt like toupée of halva floss and a scattering of pistachios—far more than any of the three Sorbets (mint, rose, and coffe, $8), which were all far too syrupy sweet.