On Friday night at about 7 PM, Amy and I made a last minute decision to go out for dinner. We called around to a couple places to make reservations and we didn't have any luck. Finally, I was like, "I want Afghan!" Looking on The Post Dining Guide, I saw Tom S's review of Faryab in Bethesda. Overall, he said that the food was really good, but the service was lacking and inattentive. I figured we would try it anyway.
When going to a restaurant on Cordell Ave in Bethesda, you can save yourself a lot or time by skipping the overly crowded Cordell Ave parking garage and going one block further to Del Ray, where the lot us usually empty. After we parked, I was tempted to stop in and say hello to Chef Sudhir at Passage to India, but he was nowhere in sight when we walked by. Faryab only a few steps from my favorite Indian restaurant.
When we walked in Faryab, I noticed that the hosted was extremely friendly. She greeted us with a huge, "Welcome! Two for dinner?!" We were seated and immediately someone stopped by to see if we wanted something to drink. They have plenty of servers, expeditors, and bussers there to wait on you. Our waitress, a sweet, Asian woman with glasses that reminded me of the ones my grandmother used to wear, came over quickly after we sat down and asked us if we wanted something to drink. The manager was constantly walking around checking that everyone was happy as well. All around, the owners have hung Afghan artifacts and pictures. The atmosphere was a bit brighter than most restaurants I've been to lately and there was a lot of space so I didn't feel like I was right on top of the table next to us.
The menu at Faryab is very similar that of Afghan Grill in Adams Morgan except the list of appetizers was quite a bit larger and more interesting. One appetizer that we found particularly interesting was the deep fried, breaded sweet potatoes with small amounts of yogurt and meat sauces. The meat sauce reminded me of a stewed meat - it was slightly spicy and tasted like it had chili seasoning in it. I did note that there was more breading than sweet potato, but I didn't that mind too much. It was probably only five minutes after we ordered our appetizer that it appeared at our table.
The wine list was disappointingly small. There were only a few bottles each of red and white. The only wines available by glass were the house wines. Instead, I ordered a beer since I can't drink a whole bottle of wine on my own now that Amy is pregnant.
Shortly after we were done with out appetizer, the waitress came and took the plate away. Soon after that, our entrees came out. I'd ordered the Quabili Pallow which is a delicately seasoned lamb with spiced brown rice, raisins and shaved carrots. When they first brought it to the table, it looked like they'd forgotten the lamb and simply brought be a giant plate of rice. Once I put my fork in the rice though, I realized that there really was more lamb than rice on the plate. The moist, tender lamb was buried in the rice. The rice, seasoned with many spices, was a little dryer than I like. This was quickly forgotten when I mixed it with the shaved carrots and raisins.
Amy had the chicken kabob (Kabob-e-Murgh) which I have to say tasted extremely good. I think I prefer the Afghan version of kabobs over any other ethnic food. Similar kabobs that you get at an Indian restaurant tend to be drier where the tandoor oven has a tendency to dry the meat out. The kabobs at Faryab, on the other hand, are cooked in a way that leaves the meat very tender and full of flavor. I asked the manager how they seasoned their kabobs and he said that they marinate them for 24 hours in olive oil, garlic, pepper, and tumeric (which explains the slightly yellow tint of the chicken).
On top of the two entrees, I ordered a side of Kadu which (if you remember from my review of Afghan Grill) is saut‚ed pumpkin. This is definitely one of the more interesting dishes you can order at an Afghan restaurant. The pumpkin at Faryab was kept slightly firm and wasn't overcooked, which I appreciated. I noticed that they must add a little sugar to the pumkin since it was a little on the sweeter side. Like our appetizer, the Kadu came with meat and yogurt sauces drizzled over it.
Our experience at Faryab was very pleasant. The service was amicable and smooth. I imagine that after Tom Sietsema's review, they made a conscious effort to change the vobe that their wait staff was exhibiting. All of the food was excellent. I'm looking forward to returning to try some of the other dishes I saw on the menu like their sambosas or Mantu - steamed dumplings filled with ground beef and onions, served with yogurt and meat sauces. Our check came to about $57 before tip, which was very reasonable considering the quality of the overall experience we had.
4917 Cordell Ave
Parking: Street parking available, no valet
Reservations: Taken although probably not needed
Smoking: not allowed
Amy's Bathroom Rating: Spotless
Nearest Metro: Bethesda