Dining Around

By Bill Hanna

I don’t like to eat in restaurants where the noise/music volume is so high that conversation is difficult. I’ve wondered why the rooms’ architects have not used material that absorbs sound. But a different explanation has been provided by ABC News (27 May 2013): “You know how you practically have to shout at some restaurants in order to have a conversation? It’s not because the restaurant owners just happen to love music. Studies show the louder the tunes, the more quickly you’ll eat—and the sooner you’ll leave. That means a faster turnover and a higher profit for the restaurant. While you may not even notice how quickly you’re throwing back that burger, your belly will suffer. It takes 20 minutes for the ‘I’m full’ signal to get from your stomach to your brain, so those loud tunes mean you’re more likely to end up overstuffed.” The restaurants noted below are fairly quiet.

The New Deal Café:
Yes, I am “mature” enough to remember. When a child, I cried when I heard that FDR had died; so I may have a bias about a restaurant with this name. It’s in Old Greenbelt at the Roosevelt Center (113 Centerway, 301 474-5642), which of course is important to those interested in U.S. and urban history. But the food is Middle Eastern! There’s hummos (chickeas plus), baba ghannouge (eggplant plus), falafel (chickpeas plus, alas deep fried), grape leaves, fatayer (spinach pies), chicken shawarma, falafel or spinach pizza, shakshouky (roasted eggplant plus), lentil soup, mezza platters such as “Lebanese Traditional” (tabouleh, baba ghannouge, hummus, kibbeh, grape leaf, falafel), various kabobs, and much more. The platters are around $11, smaller dishes around $5, and kabobs around $12. For the sake of history and good food, check it out. Note: On Mondays, it’s only open for lunch. Free wifi. The menu and other information is at http://www.newdealcafe.com.

Two notes on Middle East cuisine around College Park:
Mosaic Cafe, which for a long time served very good food, went out of business. And a sort-of fast food affordable restaurant, Garbanzo, opened in the College Park Shopping Center (7316 Baltimore Avenue, 301 276-3399). Its specialties are wraps and salads with chicken shwarma, falafel, hummus, lentils, and roasted eggplant. Quite good for fast food.

Mark’s Kitchen:

There is a Mark, and he has a kitchen located at 7006 Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park (tel. 301 270-1884). The focus of food is vegetarian Asian. There are many vegetarian options, all clearly identified. Mark’s even goes one step further and identifies vegan dishes. There are mandoo (korean dumplings), mung bean pancakes, fried kombu seaweed, seaweed soup, seaweed bibimbap, black bean veggie burger, japchae (noodles with lots of vegetables), grilled tofu, and more. For those so inclined, there are meat and fish dishes. The smaller dishes are under $5 and the larger ones mostly under $10. Learn more at http://www.markskitchen.com.

Virginia Vegetables:
I recently had a wonderful vegetable main dish at Afghan Restaurant (2700 Jefferson Davis Highway, 703 548-0022). It’s the Vegetarian Rice Combo for $12.95. The combination includes kadu (butternet squash), subzi (spinach with cilantro and dill), and bouranee baunjan (eggplant) served with qaubili palau (steamed cardamom-spiced rice with lentils, raisins, and carrots — and can be with lamb if ordered). It was not the only good dish at this restaurant, but for me it was the best.

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