There is an alarm that goes off occasionally inside of me. It is not a voice, per se, but I give in to it more often than I should when it goes off. Having ventured out to Oak Park, Illinois, to sample a Venezuelan restaurant and then going to Jerusalem Cafe for some Turkish coffee, the hankering had set in and the alarm kept chiming until the chiming became and annoying bang. So, yet again, I gave in to my slut factor as it relates to food and went back to 1030 Lake Street in Oak Park to satisfy my constant appetite. Destination: Jerusalem Cafe.
It is quite apparent that my food addiction is becoming a problem and the only drawback is that I have to keep going to the store to buy clothes that will now adjust to my widening. And looking at the board with a hunger and what I pray was not the formation of drool in the corner of my lips, it was evident to the guy who took my order. I only needed to appease the growl, so I decided to order something of a lunch portion.
Again, being at a Middle Eastern cafe, I noted the menu item for hummus. I ordered it, not thinking that it would be particularly tasty, but just for good measure. And because Middle Eastern eateries are very much known for their schwarma sandwiches, I placed an order for a chicken schwarma sandwich and acknowledged that I had reneged on my vegetarian diet for the moment. And to send it all down the gullet, I ordered a Persian tea just to see if their tea was worthy of being on the bill of fare.
Let me say that the hummus was a far cry from disappointing. At restaurants the hummus can be passibly good to outstanding. At Jerusalem Cafe, the hummus was a surprising slice of heaven. Although not drowned in olive oil and doused with this, that, and the other spice, it was a fantastic jolt to the taste buds. The chicken schwarmaa? Talk about a peace offering. Many people will boast and brag about their schwarma sandwiches and as sales and marketing pitches go, I give them their respect for trying to promote their product. But the tahini in the chicken schwarmaa had my mouth bursting with flavour that screamed, “You are eating the real deal, man.” This was the kind of schwarma I remember eating in Tel Aviv. This is what will keep me running back to Oak Park to get my fix.
Jerusalem Cafe is not one of those eateries that boasts a big restaurant atmosphere and a bill afterwards to match. I sat outside to enjoy the nice outdoors — and the various and sundry people who passed while I was showing my appreciation for such delicious food. The menu at Jerusalem Cafe is quite extensive, but thankful that it is vast along the lines of Middle Eastern food only. It is not one of those placebo restaurants that manages to introduce some Asian or Latin American dish on the bill of fare, which really lets you know the authenticity of the place. A day well spent gobbling some tasty morsels from Jerusalem Cafe was a moment that I shall not bother trying to remember because I will go back again, and a again, and again. Let the food alarm wake the neighbourhood.
A co-worker had informed me about Oak Park Nights every Thursday night during the summer. Many of the shops and boutiques remain open later than usual. There is music at almost every corner. And, of course, there is food. I had ventured to Jerusalem Cafe for Turkish coffee with a great deal of satisfaction. I had also gone back to the cafe for a chicken schwarma sandwich and hummus. But on this particular Thursday night I wanted to see some of the street venue. And what better way to address the topic of appetite than to have an outdoor seat at Jerusalem Cafe while life presented itself.
In keeping with my vegetarian diet, I ordered a falafel plate with Persian tea. My co-worker ordered a grilled chicken platter with yellow rice and carrots. Let me start by saying that the falafels were the absolute best that I have ever had outside of the Middle East. I thought the ones I had tasted in Tel Aviv were tops, but clearly the Middle Eastern cooks did not compromise taste for the Western tongue. And I appreciated that fully. My stomach will agree also. My co-worker let me sample some of her chicken and rice. Yes! Yes! Yes! There is something to be said for grilling chicken enough that you can cut it with a plastic fork, but there was still enough juice that you did not get the feeling that you were eating paper. Her order also came with hummus and as I had mentioned earlier, the hummus does not come decorated in olive oil and paprika, but it is the tastiest for such a bland presentation. Never judge a book by the cover. God was indeed smiling as we feasted on our Israeli dishes and took some Turkish coffee.
It appears that the arts and entertainment goes on until some time after nine o’clock at night. We strolled casually to our separate transit posts — considering we had eating so much and were not in any mood to move around like we were in a race. I hope that I return from my Australian holiday in time to have a few more Thursdays of warm weather so that I may enjoy some more street fare and tasty Middle Eastern dining. Hmm. Wait. Melbourne is known for its various ethnic restaurants. I may have a Melbourne Alphabet Soup blog in place instead. Haha.