When the folks in our monthly "eating club" were polled as to where our next meal should be.... it was unanimous, Alforon was the only choice. so on a recent weekend night, we arrived at Alforon, looking to take on the menu.
Since my first post, I've been here a couple of times, and have grown to enjoy the warm colors and textures of the small dining area.
We started with some Labni (comes with pickles and bread - $4.25):
The labni was very smooth, with a texture like a thick creme fraiche, with hints of lemon, this was very nice. And this time I didn't forget to take a photo of the pickles, which I think are the best in San Diego.
We were all fascinated with the green item in the pickles.... it had the texture of artichoke. George one of the owners told us it was Snake Cucumber, commonly known as Armenian Cucumber in the US. It is actually a melon with cucumber like characteristics. The pickles at Alforon have a wonderful fresh briney flavor to them, and were one of the favorites during this dinner.
I also requested a small bowl of garlic paste.
I've really taken to this creamy and light paste, with a decent, but not overbearing garlic flavor. It is closer to an aioli then a garlic paste, and recently I've been buying 8 ounce containers to go. It would probably make cardboard delicious. Even though George told us that we should only use the garlic paste for chicken, he appreciated our enthusiasm for it...... his son did tell us that he puts on everything, so I guess we were in good company. Samia and George, the owners have such an honest enthusiasm and concern for their customers that is quite refreshing. George even told us the ingredients for his garlic paste (which is nothing like my two recipes), of course he told us the secret is in how he prepares it, not the ingredients. And nope there is no potato or mayonnaise in the recipe. I won't share the ingredients with you.... I want you to try the garlic paste, and make your own mind up.... and ask George, he'll readily share the ingredients with you.
For the meal proper, we started with Zaatar Extra ($3.25):
It is the organic imported Zaatar (Wild Thyme), that is rightfully the star of this. I really didn't think we even needed the "extra" (tomato, olive, and mint), as there was more than enough flavor to go around.
The Spinach and Cheese Flat Bread ($3.75):
Really paled in flavor after having the Zaatar..... though the Missus loves the Spinach only flat bread.
The Soujouk ($5.75) was up next:
I mentioned this in my previous post, and it was indeed just as good this time around. We preferred this to the Lahm Bajeen with Spicy Peppers ($3.45):
The most suprising item of the night was the Chicken Tawook ($5.75):
Looking like a simple white meat chicken topped flat bread, the chicken had been simply marinated and was very tasty. Of course being topped with the wonderful pickles and garlic paste (we of course added even more), this was very good. And to be perfectly honest, this was lighter, more refined, and had better prepared ingredients than what is served at Mama's. About this time George came around and told us that he prepares four different kinds of dough. And that the meat flat breads used a lighter dough, creating a thinner crust than the non-meat flat breads.
About then our Falafel arrived (Six Falafel, Tahini, and Pickles - $6.75):
If you like light and almost creamy Falafel, you'll love this. For me, I like mine a bit more "gritty" and substantial. FOY Jenne thought these were heavenly topped with...... you guessed it; the garlic paste, which made George laugh and shake his head. Of course, right then the young man chimed in, "yes, that's exactly how I like it".
Right then George walked away and came back with some sesame bread that he wanted us to taste with some Zataar sprinkled on it.
Candice commented on how this tasted almost like Shao Bing..... George told us that this is the very traditional bread they make.
Also arriving was the Feta Cheese Pie ($3.25), but by this time we were pretty stuffed.
The four of us shared a Aaysh Essaraya ($3.95) which finished us off.
All in all a very reasonably priced meal at under $50 for four! And we had a really nice chat with George, who told us how the refractory oven is actually the second oven. The first was bought prefabricated, but had many flaws, so he sent it back ($4200 in shipping), and had the one he uses built on site.
Alforon is quickly becoming a fixture on our rotation.... and even on this night, I had to have a container of garlic paste (8oz - $3.95) to go. As always it was wonderful to spend time eating and chatting with Howie, Jenne, and Candice..... thanks for a great time!
5965 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115
Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 9pm
Sunday 10am - 7pm
Closed on Monday