Friday, October 5, 2012

The Road, Episode 13: Sinbad Cafe and Hookah Bar [Eating Our Way Down Nolensville Pike]

Posted By on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 7:14 AM

A late night magic carpet ride sans Steppenwolf.
  • A late night magic carpet ride sans Steppenwolf.
Welcome to The Road, my column in which I'm going to attempt — key word: attempt — to eat at every non-chain restaurant on Nolensville Pike between I-440 and the county line. I'll readily admit that even though I live right off Nolensville — Paragon Mills represent! — and revel in the diversity and quantity of its eateries, I have barely scratched the surface of what the strip has to offer. But now I'm going to rectify that, and hopefully you'll join for what's likely to be a wild ride.

Episode 13: Sinbad Cafe and Hookah Bar
Address: 404 Elysian Fields Road
Phone: 638-2229

I went to Sinbad Cafe twice this week: once because I noticed they were open and once because I noticed they open late. Regular readers know I'm sort of obsessed with late-night food — I'm a professional night creature — and I'm very happy to announce that we can all add another spot to our late-night, post-show routines. The dream of eating gyros and drinking beer at 2 in the morning is alive on Nolensville Road! No seriously, I dream about these sorta things Or, at very least, think about all the time. I lead an exciting life.

Located in the former Jack's/Elysian Inn building — across the street from my other late night go-to El Amigo — Sinbad's has been open for all of five days, but it's been on my radar for a minute now. Ever since my favorite gyro spot, the sadly un-reviewed Gyros & Wings, closed a month or so ago in the wake of The Great Nolensville Kroger Abandonment, there's been a gyro-shaped hole in my heart. When I saw the nastier-than-nasty couches from Jack's getting hauled away and the new sign for Sinbad go up, I was stoked. Jack's was a charmless dive where Pall Malls and dreams went to die, so anything would have been better, but the off-chance that I could get Mediterranean and/or Middle Eastern food while drinking beer was a damn fine scenario.

And it works. While things are still a little rough around the edges — and there are some kinks to be worked out service-wise — it's essentially Amir's one-man show at the moment — but the food is tasty, the prices are reasonable and the beer is cold. On our first trip the food took longer to come out than one would hope, but I'm going to grade that trip on a curve, because, well, we were probably the first strangers to walk through the door and it looked like Amir was a little surprised to see us. It's not like there was a press release or a publicity campaign or any other reason to expect the first party that walked in his door would be a food blogger — he nailed it with the food, so we can let the service slide.

Part of my excitement about Sinbad's was that the menu offers crepes. Not that the ham crepe i order was actually a crepe in French style, but it hit the spot. It was essentially a pita pocket filled with grilled, seasoned ham, lettuce onions and cheese. A pocket FULL of ham! Not what I was expecting, but an impressive ham sandwich is hard to boo-hoo about. On my second trip I ordered the gyro and fries — a standard, but you'd be surprised how many people screw it up — which ranks up there with my beloved Gyro & Wings. The wife ordered foul mudamas — a mashed fava bean dish that is the exact opposite of foul — and my sister-in-law ordered a veggie plate that had even this avowed carnivore drooling — the hummus was thick and homemade, the falafel crispy, moist and flavorful.

The atmosphere is probably not going to be for everyone. It's a hookah bar, which is a no-go for some smoke-free folks, but honestly, the fragrant hookahs are an upgrade from the cheap-cigarettes-and-liver-failure smell of Jack's. The room is painted in a dark purple with only green and blue lights, which doesn't work so well during the day but it works great late-night. Overall, a welcome addition to the late-night food seen on Nolensville. Though I'll probably going there at normal-person dinner time as well.

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