I must admit, I have high standards for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food. I've been to Israel, Turkey, and Egypt, and enjoyed the food in all of them. There are very few places here in the States, even a city as full of immigrants as New York City, that serve the same quality of food that I found in those faraway places. Bedouin Tent, on Atlantic Avenue, offers a variety of Middle Eastern dishes, most in portions big enough to share and at cheap prices. But does the food measure up?
One of the great pleasures of Middle Eastern food, particularly for vegetarians, is the wide variety of salads and spreads. At Bedouin Tent you can get any of the salads for $5, or you can get a salad plate, which serves up five of them for a mere $10. I chose the following: hummus, a good thick hummus is always my benchmark choice, and this version did not disappoint; beets, dressed with olive oil and permeated by the herbal flavor of parsley; lentil and bulgur, which was unfortunately dry; spinach and chickpeas, nice and creamy on the inside and dressed in a tomato sauce, though I didn't find any spinach on my plate; and foul, the fava beans I developed a taste for in Egypt, slightly undercooked but dressed with lemon juice, parsley, and fresh tomato. All in all a respectable grouping, and more than enough to share.
By far the best aspect of the salad plate was the pita that came with it. Freshly baked and still puffy with steam, I enjoyed tearing apart the pita and picking up various combinations of the salad with it.
I have now been to two restaurants with the word "Bedouin" in their name, and both serve something called "pitzas." The Veggie Pitza ($10) at Bedouin Tent is a 10-inch marvel, more than enough food for two people. The dough is the same as the thin pita, but since it's topped it isn't able to rise as much, and becomes nice and crusty around the edges. Those toppings include a great fresh mozzarella, which oozes and stretches as you pull the slices apart. Slices of tomato and green pepper are cut too thick to actually cook, they merely get warmed up in the oven, and pitted kalamata olives add a nice saltiness to balance out the pitza.
If you visit while the weather is nice, walk in past the no-frills take-out space, through the narrow dining room, and into their lovely little back yard. Enjoying the fresh air and the bountiful food, you can almost make believe you aren't in the middle of busy Brooklyn. I can't say that Bedouin Tent lived up to my high standards, but for Atlantic Avenue it's pretty darn good.
405 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn 11217 (map)
About the author: Howard Walfish is a Virginia native who has been living in New York since 2003. He is, in fact, a vegetarian, and is the co-founder of Eat to Blog and the creator of BrooklynVegetarian.