Eat this now: Mixed appetizer platter from Damascus Gate
Early this year, OnMilwaukee senior writer Lori Fredrich wrote this inspiring article about the food and story behind Milwaukee's only Syrian Restaurant. Thus, Damascus Gate, 807 W. Mitchell St., was on my list of must-try Milwaukee restaurants for months, and I finally wandered in for lunch last Sunday.
My two dining dates and I ordered this "vegetarian mixed appetizer" ($17.45) that came with stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baba ghannouj, mousakaa and felafel. We asked to substitute the felafel with kebbeh – deep fried ground beef with cracked wheat and onions – and our server was happy to comply even though we clearly took the "vegetarian" out of vegetarian mixed appetizer. The meal came with a basket of warm flatbread that was quickly replenished after we burned through the first basket.
Hummus is on my short list of favorite foods and this one is delicious. Creamy and flavorful made with the right amount – which for me is a small amount – of tahini and oil. The mousakaa was chunky, zesty and fresh and the kebbeh, our favorite on the platter, was perfectly deep fried with seasoned beef inside.
This was enough food for lunch for three people, but we ordered felafel and chicken sandwiches anyway. Both were very good, but we couldn't finish them because of the large and filling appetizer.
We were delighted with our first meal at Damascus Gate and will definitely return. Our experience was enhanced by bizarre weather that include lots of sunshine on our way into the eatery, a moody, massive rainstorm that rolled down Mitchell Street while we ate, and then the return of sunshine during our walk home. Perfect.
Damascus Gate is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Go here for more info.
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