published Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Kabob-ster just the trick for meat on a stick

The Kufta Kabob Plate includes, clockwise from bottom, skewers of ground beef on a bed of basmati rice, bread, salad dressing (in cup) and Greek salad.
The Kufta Kabob Plate includes, clockwise from bottom, skewers of ground beef on a bed of basmati rice, bread, salad dressing (in cup) and Greek salad.
Staff Photo by Clint Cooper

IF YOU GO

• What: Kabob-ster, 1408 Gunbarrel Road, Suite 111

• Phone: 423-475-5370

• Website: www.Kabob-ster.com

• Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

• Price range: 55 cents (slice of tandoor bread)-$12.45 (Kabob-ster Feast of three skewers, three sides)

If you're craving kabobs, there's the not so simple matter of buying vegetables and meats, slicing them into bite-size pieces, skewering them and firing up the grill to cook them.

A new restaurant on Gunbarrel Road has a different solution.

Kabob-ster, whose menu advertises itself as "Middle Eastern Gourmet," serves kabobs on five different plates as well as a selection of wraps, salads and starters.

THE MENU

The kabob plates are available in chicken, ground beef, vegetable or combinations of the three and come with two sides ($8.95-$9.95) or three ($10.45-$12.95). The sides include hummus, Greek salad or basmati rice, and all plates offer tandoor or pita bread and tzatziki sauce.

There are also falafel, gyro and vegetarian plates ($7.95-$8.95).

For people who haven't been adventuresome enough to try Middle Eastern food, a falafel is a deep-fried ball (or patty) made from ground chickpeas, fava beans or both. Gyro meat is usually thin, sliced, roasted beef, lamb or a combination of the two.

Kabob-ster wraps ($4.95-$5.95) are available with hummus, falafel, chicken, beef or gyro meat. Meatless choices include large and small Greek ($2.95, $5.45) or tabouli ($3.45, $6.45) salads. A large chicken kabob Greek salad ($6.95) also is available.

Starters and sides ($1.65-$3.95) include falafel pieces, stuffed pita, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baba ghanouj (a grilled eggplant dish with a consistency similar to hummus), basmati rice and french fries.

The menu also offers a variety of small desserts and kids meals.

THE ORDER

On the day my wife and I visited for dinner, I had eaten chicken for lunch, so I chose the Kufta Kabob Plate ($9.95) -- two skewers of ground beef -- with two sides. For my sides, I chose Greek salad and basmati rice.

The plate arrived looking colorful and inviting, with skewers of glistening meat, yellow and white basmati rice topped with parsley, Greek salad evident with chunks of tomatoes, cucumber slices, red onion and white feta cheese, and tandoor bread cooked to a golden perfection.

My wife, less adventuresome than I am with food, ordered a gyro wrap ($5.95), an item she had eaten elsewhere.

The salad, which offered dressing on the side, was good and appeared very fresh. The rice was slightly seasoned and a decent palate cleanser.

The meat was slightly spicy but also slightly undercooked for me. The middle still had somewhat of a raw hamburger consistency. Perhaps, that's the way it's preferred in Middle Eastern dishes, but it was a little off-putting for me. I probably could have asked for it to be thrown back on the grill, but I chose not to.

My wife said her gyro was fresh, tasted good, and she liked the fact the cucumber/yogurt tzatziki sauce was served on the side.

While we were eating, an employee brought out a small platter of baba ghanouj and tandoor bread to diners, perhaps to entice them to try it in the future. While my wife and I are not frequent eggplant consumers, the dish -- in which eggplant is blended with tahini (a vegan sesame seed paste) and lemon juice -- made a pleasant dip for the bread.

THE SERVICE

Diners order at the counter and take a seat. (Drive-through service is coming but not available yet.) The friendly, young woman at the counter said she would announce our order for us to pick up or would bring it to us. When it was ready, she brought it to us. Diners prepare their drinks and pick up their plastic ware and napkins all at one corner station, which has the potential to become crowded with more than two diners at a time. My wife, a veteran sweet tea consumer, really liked the fact the tea dispenser served four varieties: regular sweet, regular unsweet, raspberry and sweet green.

THE SPACE

Kabob-ster is located in a strip mall on Gunbarrel, near the intersection of East Brainerd Road. The restaurant, painted pleasantly in mustard, rust and olive green and very clean, affords seating at four tables of four, six tables of two and two at a window counter. Diners sit in matching olive green chairs and on a long bench across one wall, with loose pillows to offer more comfort. Contemporary Middle Eastern art dots the wall, and the tables have small, tea-light lanterns. A flat-screen TV is high on the wall in one corner, and WiFi service is available.

THE VERDICT

Kabob-ster is a good option for East Brainerd residents who may be tired of fried chicken, hamburgers or tacos. I wouldn't return to order the same thing but would like to try a large Greek salad, veggie kabob or wrap. I'll look for the opening of the drive-through.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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