I like to think that I’m an adventurous eater. But really, it’s not quite true. There are a few certain vegetables that I don’t like to eat, and those veggies tend to show up again and again on menus. Even American restaurants I will have problems with if there are too many mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumber, eggplants, or a few other things. You can’t take me anywhere.
Except, it turns out, to the only exclusively-Saudi-cuisine restaurant in the area – Aldeerah. My friend M from church had been talking about this place for months, and we decided it would be a fun place to go for our monthly brunch. I trusted her and though – yes, this will be fine. I didn’t even think to look at their menu online before we went, I just trusted her and thought to myself, it will be ok.
And it turns out, it was more than ok. When you walk into Aldeerah, you are transported. It is so decadent and beautiful, it’s hard to know where to look. The chairs are all wide and comfortable with cushions on every surface the body could touch (meaning, no hard armrests, and a squishy pillow for your back), and it’s all beautifully embroidered. Not to mention that the seats are about 1.5 times as big as normal, so you feel like royalty on a throne, comfortable and able to spread out. There are lovely woven chargers at every place settings, and additional woven pieces on the wall. There are filigree metal lamps on the tables, and inlaid decor everywhere. It is enchanting, and feels nothing like your standard restaurant setup.
Once we all arrived, we looked at the menu. M warned us (having visited before) that the portions were large, but that everything was delicious. She also mentioned that the smoothies were particularly yummy, so I ordered a lime and mint smoothie, and it was amazing. I love the tart pucker that lime provides, and this was that, but smooth, and not too tart, with just a hint of mint to give it a unique flavor. My appetizer was falafel, and it was so good, and came out piping hot.
When it came time for entrees, I ordered the lamb mandi. The lamb is marinated in a special sauce, and then grilled and smoked slowly for added flavor while cooking. When the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender, it’s presented on a bed of rice with fried onions as garnish. So good, and even acceptable to a picky eater like myself.
My friend J ordered the Shawarma plate, and it was pretty delicious too. I got to try some of her chicken wrapped in the margoog bread, and it was amazing. My friend G ordered a pot of the karak tea, which is spiced with cardamom, and I got to have a cup (pictured above, mostly empty, next to my smoothie), and it was so flavorful, but also smooth and creamy while not being too hot.
When I got home afterwards, I tried really hard not to brag about my brunch to the Boy. But it was hard not to – everything was wonderful. It was reasonably priced, and the service was excellent. It makes me more excited to continue to try and find new cuisines that I will enjoy, and perhaps I’ll go back in the future so that I can enjoy those chairs once more.
Details: Aldeerah, 262 Cedar Ln, Vienna, VA; 703-992-9994 for reservations