The appetizers are worth the trip alone. All patrons are given a complimentary bowl of a slightly spicy chicken noodle soup, a nice welcoming gesture. Our party consisted of four seasoned House of Kabob veterans, and we were thrilled to find kashk-e-bademjan on the menu, and equally thrilled that the dish — sautéed, pureed eggplant with spices, topped with cream of whey — was every bit as delectable as its Thompson Lane counterpart. Opinions were split on the hummus, with some finding it too tart and lemony, and others liking for the same reason. The stuffed grape leaves (dolmeh), however, were unanimously voted the best in town: The ground-sirloin-and-rice filling was accented with a subtle blend of herbs that elicited moans of ecstasy. And while many Nashville iterations of falafel are too dry for our liking, Shish Kabobs' falafel was moist and flavorful, and vanished off the plate in a flurry of blurred hands.
The appetizer bar was raised by the inclusion of traditional Kurdish flatbread, baked fresh at Gazi's market a few doors down. Slightly thinner than pita and specked with spots of golden brown from the hot oven, the delicious bread was perfect for scooping up the kashk-e-bademjan or dipping in yogurt sauce. Standard pita is also available, but after having the flatbread, you won't want to bother. Be sure to ask for it.
Though we were nearly stuffed to the brim after our app orgy, we ventured onto the entrées, and except for one slight misstep, we were delighted. The marinated chicken kabob was exceptionally tender and flavorful. The kubideh (long pieces of ground, charbroiled beef with ground onion and spices) and teka (cubes of marinated beef) amply satisfied our carnivorous longings. The shrimp kabob was also a hit, and is a particular favorite of this writer. We also dabbled in a couple of entrées that we'd never ordered before: joojeh (a marinated whole cornish hen chopped into pieces, skewered and charbroiled) and lamb chops. While the lamb chops were quite good, it was the excellent joojeh that had us kicking ourselves for not having tried it before.