Restaurants in The InTowner
The InTowner
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Restaurant Review ~ Sababa / 3311 Connecticut Ave., NW

For those who have traveled to Israel or other Middle Eastern destinations, the Israeli/Middle Eastern food of this casual Israeli eatery will bring back fond memories. As its website explains, the word “sababa” is a Hebrew slang word meaning, apparently, “great or cool.” Well, the restaurant’s food is both great and cool, and dropping in for a Saturday brunch treats you to great, cool eats.

View from the dining section toward the front bar & entrance.

The chef, Ryan Moore, is a local who trained at the former L’Academie de Cuisine in suburban Maryland and cooked all over DC for many of its super chefs. No, he is not Israeli nor Middle Eastern, but Moore has apparently traveled often to the Middle East and Mediterranean, so he really understands the flavors and textures. Perhaps a trip to Israel should be on his next travel docket to clinch their local fare.

The brunch menu is abbreviated, true, but at least some of the small plates from the dinner menu are available. According to the waiter, the top faves are the charred eggplant, the roasted halumi (a brined cheese made usually from a mx of goat’s and sheep’s milk), the fried cauliflower with tahina and golden raisins, and the rosemary carrot falafel. The others also sound tempting — grilled broccoli, an Israeli salad — but for solo eaters, the yummiest pick may well be the charred eggplant. (Note: the menu says that the food is meant to be shared.)

This arrives as a small plate of five thin, cylindrical pieces of eggplant, toasted and with a drizzle of pomegranate and topped with a sprinkling of pistachios. True, this is considered one of the “shared small plates,” but it is totally fine for a single patron. As a shared appetizer, best bet is to order two servings.

The shared large plates — probably fine for a solo diner — includes two kebabs: a salmon with pomegranate-labne, and chicken thighs with harissa marinade. Other options include steak, a royal trumpet mushroom, shakshuka (an Israeli dish of eggs poached in a tomato sauce and is very popular in Israel), lamb and egg with pita, and a dish called an Israeli breakfast. It consists of two fried eggs, a piece of toasted whole wheat pita bread, and dabs of five dips, including hummus and two very spicy tomatoey bites. It’s a dandy breakfast for a solo patron and will disappear in a moment.

Apparently, no desserts are available at brunch time, but patrons are offered tea or coffee to finish up. And, on the back of the brunch menu are lists of cocktails, wines, and beers.

Sababa / Dinner, Sun.-Thu. 5-10pm,  Fri. & Sat. to 11pm, Sun. to 9:30pm.; Brunch, Sat. & Sun. 11am-3pm. (202) 244-6750.

Copyright © 2020 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Alexandra Greeley. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without per-mission is prohibited, except as provided by 17 U.S.C. §107 “fair use”)

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong.