I was picking up a con leche, as you do, from Sandy's and across the street I saw a temporary sign indicating the future path of the much missed Bistro Sole which used to offer an eclectic menu during the winter months on a rather pleasant outdoor patio area.
Al Maidah is Arabic for a table laden with food according to my translation services and these days it seems rather daring in a Trumpian world to name an eatery after the 5th Sura (chapter) of the Quran. Take heart those of you who fear all things Muslim as the menu appears mostly to be of the Central Asian variety, Muslim yes perhaps but of the 'Stans not the Empty Quarter. I wanted to make a joke about Trump and an Arabic restaurant but I wasn't sure the server would grasp it and I was pretty certain my fellow diners would frown so I shut up. Spinach "empanadas" that could have been crisper and could have benefited from hot sauce. The spinach was fresh and there was plenty of it inside.
We had plenty of time to observe our surroundings as the service was languid in a most un-American way. They have retained the rather romantic patio and they serve water by the bottle. Beer and wine is bring your own because as usual the city has its own extra languid response to a new business seeking a beer and wine license. Why does it take so long? Who knows.
The restaurant has a Facebook page and is getting rave reviews. They should too as they offer food not seen at Kennedy Cafe which has its own take on Central Asian food and which I also like. This is a kachapurri (spell it as you like) where the crust is filled with a soft stringy cheese while the middle has a soft fried egg like an egg-in-the-hole. The combination as you break the egg and stir in molten cheese and salty bread crust is extremely filling and very rich. The white lumps on the crust are rock salt. An excellent shared appetizer.
I tried the lamb iskender because I have also had it at Kennedy Cafe. It is comparable, small pieces of lamb accompanied in our case by grilled vegetables which were done right, crisp and tinged with delicious aromatic olive oil. We took the Uzbek bread home for breakfast we were that full.
Service needs to pick up the pace though most likely that will come with experience, but I am hoping they are cashing in on their popularity at the moment to build a foundation that will see them through the summer and hopefully make them a fixture just as Kennedy Cafe has managed. And perhaps the city will remember that they have simply taken over where Bistro Sole left off and the beer and wine license can magically appear before the winter season ends...One way to support local business with no effort expended.