Baghdad Grill – Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center
Four Maudies – Recommended
It is perhaps ironic that my last meal in Iraq was destined to be my best meal in Iraq. It was also the only opportunity to actually eat real Iraqi food I had while in Iraq.
None of my friends and co-workers I asked about it had been there and I doubt they will go. They are afraid of it, preferring the swill at the mess hall. Their loss. Too bad my buddy Mark isn’t here. So, they went to the mess hall, I went to The Baghdad Grill, located on the American Embassy Compound near the airport (not at the embassy downtown).
Photography is prohibited on the base, so no pics, unfortunately. It was clean and nice in a plain sort of way. Red cloth tablecloths, comfortable chairs, and the owner was very friendly. Not a lot of selection, but, based on what I had, it is probably all good.
For a military type base, this is clearly Five Maudies, but I am comparing it to food I had in Kuwait City and Turkey, as well as considering it is on a military-type base. They had for main courses: lamb kebabs, chicken kebabs, chicken shwarma, lamb shwarma, and a white fish fillet that the sign warned you it would take 15-minutes to prepare.
The sides were flat pita-type bread (was hollow inside like a pita), hummus, olives, peppers, and a typical middle eastern mixed salad with greens, cucumber, onion and tomato that is chopped/minced. I went for the lamb kebab, hummus, and black olives, plus Iraqi tea.
The bread was quite good, but not fresh made and hot like I was used to. Still very tasty with the hummus. The hummus was also very good, creamy, so a nice texture and good balance of chickpeas and tahini. Like all the Arabic hummus I have had, no garlic. The black olives were plump and smooth and salt water cured. Very flavorful and different than the black olives I loved in Turkey. Just one of the many cures olives may be prepared with. I really can’t believe I have never liked olives before, but then, the American jarred and canned olives are not really fit to eat in my opinion. Being in the Middle East, France and Italy has made me an olive lover, I just need olives cured the way I like them.
The kebabs were ground lamb with mild spices and sprinkled with sumac, a very common herb in the Middle East. It has a sour taste and adds a unique touch to the kebabs. There were four kebabs, a very nice portion and they were grilled and very tasty. The Iraqi tea was sweet and fresh brewed. Excellent. All in all, a very good meal. All for $10.00. If they had a restaurant like that in Basrah, I would have spent a lot of time there.