Thursday, July 1, 2010
Cazbar Kepab House in Columbia
(Update: Cazbar appears to have been replaced in Fall 2010 with Turkshish Kebap. New name. New menu.)
Cazbar opened a few blocks east of Howard Community College and the hospital, offering a streamlined version of the original Baltimore location's menu. This is hearty Turkish specialities like sour cherry soda and lahmacun (pizza with ground beef). But much of the basics will please anyone who likes Maiwand Kabob -- grilled meats, vegetables and interesting bread.
Cazbar follows the Maiwand and Bon Fresco model -- casual counter service and fresh food, some unique ethnic items but accessible to almost anyone. The basics are meat. Kabobs of grilled meat. Doner of seasoned sliced and pressed meat similar to gyros. There are variations of chicken, lamb and beef. Wrapped in thin bread as sandwiches. Served with a yogurt sauce. Paired with salad or fries.
After our lunch, we recommend the doner over the kabobs. The lamb doner was tasty without being greasy. The kabobs were moist, but not that flavorful. Maiwand Kabob and Mimi's Kabob in Clarksville both marinate the chicken more, and the meat comes out more interesting. Next time, Mrs. HowChow will try the chicken doner. And go salad, not fries. The fries were average. The salad was crisp and interesting with a nice dressing on top.
Obviously, the difference between Turkish and Afghan cuisines is 2,200 miles. Cazbar brings Turkish items like boat-shaped pizza called pide and a salad with tomatoes, pomegranate and peppers called acili ezme. I'm ready to try every appetizer, from the hummus to the salad of feta and parsley. The fresh salads are a revelation. My favorite parts of the Afghan joints are cooked vegetable side dishes like pumpkin. In contrast, Cazbar served up those fresh vegetables -- in the salad and in the sandwiches -- that really brought the meal alive.
Although I keep talking about meat, Cazbar is vegetarian friendly. You could mix and match appetizers, or you could go with falafel instead of meat. Also check out the drink options. We really liked the Tamek sour cherry nectar -- basically an uncarbonated soft drink with a lightly sour taste. (Also available at Nazar Market in Columbia.) They import Turkish waters and a "carbonated coffee" that I'll get next time.
One cool touch at Cazbar: Free hot tea in modern little cups. To the left of the soda dispenser is a tea pot sitting on top of a hot water dispenser. You use of the strainers to pour tea from the pot into your small cup -- but leave a little space. The strainer will catch the loose tea. If the brew has gotten too dark for you, you use the extra space to hot water. Add sugar to taste.
Cazbar Kebap House
10840 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044
NEAR: This is on the north side of Little Patuxent Parkway just east of Howard Community College. From Rte 29, take Rte 175 west and pass the mall. Keep going straight and look for Cazbar on the right just after the white building with the sign for Patuxent Publishing. It is next to a bank in a shopping center that sits perpendicular to the road.