Other than a sign and a ramp in front, there was little to distinguish Good Eats on Prospect Street in Ballston Spa.
Dwarfed by a large, old brick factory across the street, Good Eats resembled a modest city home adjacent to a parking lot and a gas station.
Except for the odor of exotic food wafting out the front door.
We were greeted with a smile by Ranan Akari, who with her husband, Matt Akari, owns the restaurant. Ranan suggested we take any of the dozen or so tables and brought us each a one-page laminated menu.
My eyes quickly surfed the categories: wraps, from the grill, salads and Middle Eastern, where they remained fixed.
Besides traditional American dishes such as burgers, Good Eats offers everything from appetizers like hummus and falafel ($7), baba ganoush and stuffed grape leaves ($5 each) to meals like ouzi rice, ground beef, carrots, peas, corn with oven roasted chicken ($11), to tagin kofta (meatballs with vegetables and rice on the side for $10).
Suppermate ordered a ginger ale ($2), while I requested hot tea ($2). I was offered several varieties in one of those little jewel boxes.
Despite the cold temperature outside, I was in the mood for cucumbers and yogurt. It was a straightforward preparation: shredded (and drained) cucumbers mixed with yogurt, lemon juice, mint, cilantro, coriander and black pepper in some combination. For me, it serves as a palate cleanser and a fire extinguisher.
John ordered what might be considered an Arab salad named fattoush ($7). Served in a large bowl, romaine lettuce was tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, red onions, parsley and sprinkled with toasted pita bread. A delicate coating of lemon juice and olive oil unified the ingredients.
We chose two other entrees: fasolia (green bean stew with onions, tomato sauce, small chunks of beef and rice on the side) for John, and butter chicken for me ($10 each).
Johnny P nearly swooned as he dug into his fasiola.
“As a kid,” he reminisced, “my mother used to make a stew with green beans, sliced hotdogs and spaghetti sauce. While Mom’s stew was a modest version of Ranan’s fasolia, this Middle Eastern stew still evokes warm memories of my childhood.”
When I ordered butter chicken, Ranan nodded her approval. “It’s one of the favorites here.”
Boneless white meat chicken is served in a tomato sauce seasoned with curry powder, onion, ginger and a touch of cream. The cream calmed the spiciness and thickened the sauce.
Both dishes were prepared in a red sauce and served with elegantly plain rice on the side.
They differed, however, in that the tomato sauce for the butter chicken was delightfully spicy and lacked vegetables, whereas the fasolia sauce was milder, and contained green beans and beef chunks instead of chicken.
Although Good Eats has a brief list of desserts — baklava, hareeseh (semolina cake with almonds, drenched with sugar syrup), rice pudding and flan — ranging from a reasonable $3.50 to $4.50, choosing was difficult. We often pick one to share, but this time it was impossible to single out a favorite.
So John chose the baklava, which I expected to be like every other baklava I had tasted. It wasn’t.
Phyllo was sprinkled with pistachio or other nuts, rolled into a tube, baked, drizzled with sauce made of sugar or honey and cut into 2-inch pieces. Melt-in-your-mouth delight.
Ranan explained that her father was a baker and that baklava could be cut into many different shapes, not just the squares, triangles and diamonds with which we are familiar.
My Flan (crème caramel) was straightforward and perfect.
The slightly sweet custard made from sugar, milk, vanilla and eggs, topped with caramelized sugar, was decorated with a single mint leaf, making this dessert as pleasureable to the eye as it is to the palate.
The Akaris operated a deli on Nott Street in Schenectady before starting Good Eats, and although they are open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, they plan to add dinners on weekends.
More Good Eats in the future! And that’s a good thing.
Don’t let the tab of $47 mislead.
We over-ordered to describe a variety of items in order to present as accurate a picture of Good Eats as possible.
Everything the Akaris cook is made from scratch.
In an effort to present a unique menu, they offer both American and authentic Middle Eastern dishes.
WHERE: 11 Prospect St., Ballston Spa, NY 12020, (518) 288-3380, www.goodeatsballstonspa.com
WHEN: Wed.-Mon. 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed Tues.
HOW MUCH: $44 for two people with two soft drinks, but without tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Family-owned, accessible (ramp in front), parking lot on side, takeout, catering, all major credit cards accepted.