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
Bethesda, MD
(301) 951-3484

Parking: Street parking available, no valet
Reservations: Taken although probably not needed
Smoking: not allowed
Amy's Bathroom Rating: Spotless
Nearest Metro: Bethesda

Afghan Grill

Friday night, Amy and I visited Afghan Grill again. It's been about five or so months since we'd last been there - too long if you ask me. I had a major craving for their Kadu Buranee (sauteed pumpkin). We didn't bother making a reservation, but we probably should've. The restaurant was packed around 8 PM when we arrived. Overall, Aghan Grill seems to be doing very well. I mean, the last time we'd been there, they weren't nearly as crowded and it was really easy to get a table. This time, we were lucky that they were able to make room for us.

We didn't order appetizers, although, I wish we had. (I saw someone order the sampler and it looked very enticing.) Instead we decided to just get entrees and eat the pita bread that they always bring to the table. They did change the dipping sauce that they bring with the bread - for the better. It is now much spicier. You can see the pepper seeds in it. They've obviously added jalapenos or some other green pepper to the recipe. I also ordered a glass of the Turkish red which has always been a winner in the past.

When the entrees came, I was ready to devour. Amy ordered the Kadu Buranee and it was very good as usual. Knowing that Amy would never finish her entire dish, I went with something new. I should have written down the name of the dish, but I remember the last word in the title was "Pulao". Anyway, it was a basmati rice dish with carrots, raisins, and your choice of chicken or lamb. It was excellent. The meat was tender and adequately seasoned. I don't know what it is about the rice at Afghan Grill, but I swear I could eat plates and plates of it on it's own. The sweetness of the carrots and raisins complimented the spices in the chicken well. The Kadu Buranee that Amy ordered tasted great as usual. Overall it is a very sweet dish. Meat sauce is added to the top of the sauteed pumpkin to add a salty flavor to the dish.

We opted out of dessert. This was probably one of the fastest meals we've eaten in a long time. I mean, we were in and out in less than an hour. Most of the people that were there when we arrived were still there when we left. The pace of the service helped very much. The server brought our food not too long after we ordered it. Each server in the restaurant helped with out table at some point, whether it was filling out water glasses or bringing our food. Service gets an A+ grade. When it was all over, the check only came to $33 which was definitely on the cheaper side compared to most of our meals recently.

Read about my previous trips to Afghan Grill here.

Afghan Grill
2309 Calvert Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 234-5095

Dress Code: Casual
Parking: None - street parking is a rare in Woodley Park. No Valet either. I recommend taking the metro or cabbing.
Nearest Metro: Woodly Park. Literally, it's right there.
Reservations: Taken
Bathroom rating: Eh, they're ok. The actually aren't in the restaurant. You have to go outside the restaurant and upstairs to some comment restroom that the building has. Cleanliness is questionable, but all the utilities are all working.

Afghan Grill

There are very few people I know that have actually tried Afghan food. I always tell people about Afghan Grill and the look at me like I was crazy. They have either never heard of it or they can't comprehend what Afghan food is like. We're not ones to talk -- Amy and I have only been eating Afghan food for a couple years now.

Immediately after 9/11, I noticed the Afghan restaurant I was passing on the way to work everyday was practically empty all the time. I figured it was most likely because of a backlash against Afghan businesses. We had not read much about Afghan Grill, but we decided to try it out and see what Afghan food was like. Here's what we found.

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