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Azerbaijan Grill, revisited

Closeup of tabbouleh taken Apriil 11, 2005, at

Closeup of tabbouleh taken Apriil 11, 2005, at Azerbaijan Grill Photo Credit: Newsday, 2005 / Bill Davis

On a recent visit to Azerbaijan Grill in Westbury, I was a bit disconcerted to see clips of a 2005 review (and my own name) on the cover of the 2010 menu. More distressing, though, was that so much of what I’d written no longer held true.

In the original review was this description of the tabbouleh: “Here, the fluffy grains with olive oil, lemon, scallions and tomatoes were drizzled with a fruity syrup, dotted with pomegranate. The result was at once sweet, tart, herbal and soothing.”

The emerald green tabbouleh I got this time was basically a lot of chopped parsley and chunks of onion, very little bulgur wheat and absolutely no pomegranate anything. Not bad but not something I'd order again.

When I called the restaurant, I was told the tabbouleh had always been made the way it's being done now. I actually found a photo (see above) of the way it looked back in 2005, so, no, it wasn't my imagination.

While I loved the flaky spinach pie, I found both the hummus and babaghanoush too onion-y. Then, there was the Adana kebab, previously described as “highly seasoned.” Now, what the menu described as “chopped ground lamb, onion, parsley and garlic grilled on open fire” was no more than the sum of its parts. OK but fairly bland. Close to ideal was jujeh kebab, skewered and grilled pieces of Cornish hen.  Salmon kebab was good, if a trifle overcooked, but kebab barg (marinated grilled beef tenderloin chunks) was timidly seasoned.

The place was packed to capacity. Clearly, there’s an audience for Middle Eastern food that’s been fine-tuned to the average American palate.

Azerbaijan Grill is at 610 Old Country Rd., Westbury, 516-228-000, azerbaijangrill.com.

Close-up of tabbouleh from Newsday Photo, April 11, 2005/Bill Davis

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