Afghan cuisine is rare in Montreal but, for her latest review, the casual critic at The Gazette discovers a place with promise over in the Plateau. Sarah Musgrave ventures to Fenêtre sur Kaboul, a family restaurant run by Nazillah, Nila and Obaid Javad in the old Après Le Jour, full of hope.
It all starts well enough, thanks to some dumplings.
About those dumplings. The veggie ones are called ashak and they need to be ordered. The folded wrapper was ultrasoft and flopped over the fork like it couldn’t wait to be chewed. Inside was a subtle filling of minced leek and cilantro.
Condiments soar but meaty mains are a little more hit and miss.
The kofta kebab was divine, finely ground beef shaped on the skewer with the sweet perfume of softened onions and garlic. It was also the most juicy of the lot, certainly more so than the chicken marinated in yogurt and tandoori spices and the hefty chunks of lamb, both of which could have used a little less time.
The rest of the meal kind of devolves from there. The tea room side of the restaurant, where Musgrave shifts over to for dessert, is a disappointment. Most of the desserts on the menu are strangely not available and the one that is, a rosewater pudding, tastes "like a beauty treatment in a bowl." Worse yet, service is spotty.
At one point, rather than clearing our plates, the waiter started washing the floors, releasing the scent of faux-citrus and cleaning chemicals in the air (it wasn’t late). So while I liked what I saw at Fenêtre sur Kaboul, I think the window needs a little more polish.
Verdict: fair to good bet.