Chow, Baby has enough trouble keeping track of old favorite restaurants that have closed down and soon-to-be favorites that are springing up without having to keep re-alphabetizing the ones in between.
Moving back in the file: Exodus (formerly Beto’s Caribbean Restaurant), 3000 South Fwy. Has anything else changed in the two years since Chow, Baby’s last happy visit? Maybe it’s a strip club now. Better go check; those go into a different file.
Located on the I-35 frontage road just north of Berry Street, the small stand-alone house is still a triple-U-turn pain in the butt to get to. But that’s actually good, because the more frazzled and frustrated you are, the more you’ll appreciate walking into a little bit of laid-back Jamaica – reggae music, Rastafarian colors, Bob Marley pictures everywhere, and best of all the island attitude of dreadlocked owner/host/chef Beto Edwards.
New since Chow, Baby’s last visit: Ting, the tart-sweet carbonated grapefruit soda, comes in pink! And Beto now offers, in addition to his regular menu of meat, poultry, and seafood dishes, an all-day buffet ($5.99 lunch, $7.95 dinner). Jerk chicken, curried goat, spicy sausage, sweet stewed cabbage, creamy mac & cheese, and two kinds of rice were all even better than Chow, Baby’s memories.
So why the name change? Well, it involves a Dispute, and that means that as an Ethical Journalist (hee) Chow, Baby would have to go get lots of details, comments from the other side, and maybe run all it past a lawyer or two before printing it. Or Chow, Baby could spend that time eating spicy beef pies ($1.75). If you’re curious, go ask Beto, and get a pie while you’re up. Man, those are good.
Prince Lebanese Grill (502 W. Randol Mill Rd., Arlington), in the lightly converted Sonic formerly occupied by Rama’s Mediterranean Grill, has a nondisputable reason for the name change: new ownership. It’s not all that different from Rama’s, though: still an attentive and charming boss (Francis Kobty, who owned the original Prince Restaurant in Arlington), and industrious yet welcoming staffers whose names Chow, Baby didn’t catch, thanks to a tableful of plane-crash-loud college students. We’ll call them Doc and Grumpy, though Grumpy lightened up a lot after the kids left.
The menu is pretty much the same as it was under Rama’s, indeed pretty much the same as at any casual Middle Eastern restaurant around here: hummus, dolmas, falafel, gyros, shish this and that. The ingredients and execution, though, are often a step above. Chow, Baby feasted on a lunch-special gyro plate ($5.99), piled high with pretty good (though not from a spit) grilled meat, superb baba ghannouj, and extraordinary rice pilaf. A great bargain. The Prince Lebanese Special ($10.99), a sampler plate, showcases Doc’s grill skills: Chunks of marinated lamb, chicken, and beef were singed on the outside, still tender and juicy within; tomato, onions, and bell pepper got the same snappy treatment. Rama’s, sorry it didn’t work out, but many thanks for giving us a worthy replacement.
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