Israeli-inspired Sababa replaced the decades-old Cleveland Park standby Ardeo earlier this month, bringing the neighborhood modern Middle Eastern dishes including shakshuka with sous vide eggs, slow-cooked lamb shank, and a mixed plate of smoked hot peppers.
The new eatery comes from Rammy Award-winning restaurateur Ashok Bajaj and executive chef Ryan Moore, a Minibar alum who’s composing the aforementioned pepper plate with spicy serranos, habaneros, fresnos, and Thai chiles, then finishes them off with paprika-spiked harissa and herb-laced zhug.
There’s also lamb shank cured for 24 hours with salt, coriander, and cumin that’s grilled and then slow-cooked in schmaltz for five hours; pan-seared sardines with charred zucchini that also get folded into a side composed of tahini paste and crumbled feta; and lentil and onion-laced pasta.
Here’s what the public is saying, just over a week into service:
The Greatest Hits News: Yelper MJ R. hails the “excellent mix of salads, small plates, kebob and entree. A thoughtful wine list that pairs well with the cuisine. Delicious cocktails (try “Halva World Away”!), lovely and inviting decor, and terrific service.” Open Table user Danny says a pomegranate soda “was delicious! The hummus of the day was amazing (braised lamb hummus) and we had the 5 salad option which was great too.” Google user Bon Lessans “had a wonderful dinner here and was really impressed. My friends and I tried nearly everything on the menu, and it was ALL great.” [Yelp, Open Table, Google]
The See You Soon News: Yelper Jonni S. says she has already visited the area newcomer three times and “has ordered different dishes each time I have been, and not a single one has disappointed. Flavorful and exciting. Beautiful dining room. Great drinks.” Fellow Yelper Bonnie L. concurs. “Had an extensive dinner here with foodie friends and we tried, and loved, over half of the menu! Can’t wait to go back,” she writes. [Yelp]
The No Kinks Here News: Yelper Niki M. says she was there the second night after Sababa opened “and everything was fantastic. Service was great and staff was very friendly. There didn’t seem to be any kinks to be worked out as may be expected with a new place. Hummus was so creamy and delicious, as were all the items we ordered.” Second-day diner Zach P. was equally impressed. “I was stunned, not only at the quality of the food and service, but that there were no ‘opening’ jitters or glitches,” he writes. [Yelp]
The Highs and Lows News: Yelper David M. was underwhelmed. “The menu had many decent options, but most lacked the burst of flavor that should have been present. A fine neighborhood restaurant, not one to travel to,” he writes, adding, “I expected much more from the empire that brought us Rasika, and Bindaas.” Trip Advisor user 286solotraveler begs to differ. heaping praise on the decor (“the room is beautiful”), the staff (“so professional and friendly”), the food (loved everything from the hummus to the “divine deserts”), and even the location (“parking in the neighborhood was easy.”) A great addition to the neighborhood,” 286solotraveler writes. [Yelp, Trip Advisor]
The Suggestions Box News: Open Table user maven says, “The vegetable tagine was very light on vegetables and very heavy on couscous. We would have liked to see that as a heavy vegetable dish with some couscous to really be a star dish.” Open Table user cosmopobeth endorsed the hummus, halloumi, and grilled chicken thighs. “Less successful were the charred eggplant and the koshary,” warns cosmopobeth. [Open Table]
The Nice Vibe News: An anonymous Open Table user says, “The overall ambience and interior design of the space was very elegant, the white sail fabric hanging from the ceiling, decorative wood screen panels on the wall, and the group of palm fronds on the wall created a very unique space.” Trip Advisor user RonFG writes that “Ashok has another winner.” Yelper Maureen M. was impressed by the “lovely seating on cushioned benches in the front to enjoy the evening sunset.” [Open Table, TripAdvisor, Yelp]