Mood elevation - Page 2

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It was a little like a miniature beef Wellington, with yogurt instead of mushroom sauce.
The kitchen's other savory showstopper is a shrimp casserole ($8), a crock of prawns swimming in a thick tomato sauce with bits of green bell pepper, caramelized onions, and mushrooms under a cap of melted mozzarella. This dish seemed more Provençal than Turkish, but it disappeared so fast it was hard to be sure. Running respectable races in the same heat were kakavia ($10), a stew of salmon, clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops in a watery pepper-paprika broth, and kalamarika ($8), batter-fried calamari accompanied by batter-fried slices of lemon and potato, which were hard to tell apart without biting into them.
Also respectable, if not quite memorable, were a braised lamb shank ($18) served with couscous and an herbed tomato-Chianti sauce and mercimek kofte ($6), a hummus relative with red lentils substituted for chickpeas. Weaker — in fact disappointing — was the Ararat salad, a fey compilation of mixed greens, dried apricots, and walnuts, with a crotton of fried goat cheese on top. The promised balsamic vinaigrette was undetectable. Were we being set up for dessert?
If so, we must be grateful, for the dessert menu too includes a sublime dish: the nightingale's nest ($5), a coil of baklava filled with lavender honey and finished with whipped cream and scatterings of crushed pistachios. Baklava so often flirts with being a cliché, like flan, but in imaginative and conscientious hands it can sing a lovely song, an ethereal melody from on high. SFBG
ARARAT
Dinner: Mon.–Fri., 4–11 p.m.
Continuous service: Sat.–Sun., 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
4072 18th St., SF
(415) 252-9325
www.ararat-tapas.com
Full bar
Somewhat noisy
AE/MC/V
Not wheelchair accessible

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