Phoenicians Restaurant

Where do bloggers go when they’re near Wolf Road but looking for some place local? I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to hear that Albany John and I were hanging with Daniel B. one night. We got peckish, and I looked at Daniel and asked “So, where are we going for dinner?” When you have a fussy friend, it takes a lot of decision making out of the equation.

We went to Phoenicians – we’d never been and had heard some tasty things. Short story – it was okay, but I’m not sure I’d go back for dinner.

When we were seated, they had this non-alcoholic beer in a few different flavors on the menu – raspberry, apple… I asked our waitress about it, and she said she had no idea what it was. She showed me a display bottle, but it would have been nice to know things like what the beer tasted like, or if it was popular… Not just “Well, you can’t buy it at the grocery store,”
We left the ordering up to Daniel B. We got a bunch of plates to share. These are the tiniest dolmas I’ve ever had. At over $1 each, I was surprised by how tiny and exploded they were. They were about the size of a knuckle. I’ve never seen dolma so tiny before!

They were warm and quite lemony. There was a white sauce with them, but the lemon flavor overpowered it for me.
Daniel B said the baba ghanouj came highly recommended to him by a friend. It was okay – pleasantly smooth, smoky, and creamy; but the pita they served us was stale. The price tag was a little high for the portion, too – $7.99 for an app plate’s worth.
The spicy potatoes were a surprise. The menu listed them as potatoes with garlic, coriander, and lemon juice. What came out were some excellently fried squares doused in Frank’s red hot sauce. The fry job was commendable, but dude – what’s up with that description vs reality? This seemed more like diner food than a Phoenician side dish.

Wraps! With some pretty decent rice on the side. Falafel wrap is on the left, Kafta is on the right. They were kind of skinny.
Again, falafel left, kafta right. The falafel didn’t have much taste. I was kind of like “Hey guys, what did we order for the one that wasn’t meat? I didn’t taste much of anything besides the veggies.”

The kafta was savory, and the better of the two. The pita wraps were, like our earlier pita, stale. Pita delivery in this area isn’t a daily thing, but I wish there was a way to have non-stale pita bread when it’s not a delivery day.

The service was okay throughout the meal – a bit unpolished and kind of awkward. When our server was clearing our plates at the end, she started bussing up bits of rice with her finger tips. That kind of thing can wait for after a table leaves, and is easier to do with a rag/sponge than it is with your fingers.

I’d prefer to go to Beiruit in Troy for similar fare with better service (friendlier, knowledgeable), lower prices, and better food (flavor & portions). The three of us ended up leaving a bit peckish and underwhelmed.

  1. Mr. Dave said:

    I got a tip from a worker at Roma foods (they carry those Lebanese flatbreads that I an pretty sure Phoenicians uses) in Latham of all places, he said the delivery is on Tuesday.

    Last time I went to Phoenicians was about 3 years ago, but I posted about it (I think I am still quoted on their “testimonials section on the website) and remember it being a good experience. I think I really liked the hummus.

    In any event, I would be interested in giving the Kebbeh Nayeh a whirl, it says you need to give them 24 hours though… Perhaps I need to try Phoenicians again, would be a shame if they have gone downhill.

  2. We had a super awkward experience there. The food was fine, some of it better than others, but what I remember most was that there was not any music of or anything. With only one other table there and otherwise basically no sounds, all we heard was the flat conversation of the other table. No gentle hum of a buzzing room (because the room was not buzzing). I might not be explaining well, but it was unpleasant. Only one gentleman was working in the front; he seemed to be hosting, serving, generally being awko taco.

  3. Robert said:

    I find that Phoenicians gives very large shwarma entrees. They come with rice, salad, pita bread, garlic Sauce and hummus. They are a little pricey, but you get a lot of food.

  4. Holy cow, that baba ghanouj was eight bucks? That's crazy talk. I wasn't paying my usual close attention to the menu. Egad!

    For the record, I hadn't been to Phoenicians either, and it's going to take me a while to get back in there too.

    Pity. It had such promise.

  5. Must've been an off night or something… I've always found the service to be super-warm and inviting, like you're eating at their house. The baba ganouj is always a highlight, as is the beef shwarma dinner (and that garlic sauce!). Yum!

  6. Chelle said:

    I just want to beg to go out to a dinner with you guys just once. It's so nice to see people pick different things to eat in this town!

  7. I've been to Phoenicians once about two years ago and I wasn't impressed enough to go back. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision; I was running a lot of late errands with my partner and his father, we were hungry, we didn't want to go home and cook or go to a chain, we were on that stretch of Central, and we like shwarma.

    The food wasn't BAD. It just wasn't great. The hummus was probably the best part of it (I only shared some of my partner's), my shwarma was surprisingly bland.

    I've never once thought, “Oh, let's go to Phoenicians again.” In fact, I'd forgotten it existed. And my partner's father hasn't called up to say he wants to eat there next time he visits…so I know he wasn't impressed, either.

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