Damas Restaurant

. July 30, 2014.
2014-06-14-19.15.24

Damas Restaurant

2276 S. Main St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone: 734-761-8353
Hours:  Mon-Thu: 11am-9:30pm; Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm; Sun: noon-9pm
www.facebook.com/DamasRest.14

THE SHORT COURSE

Kid-friendly: Yes

To avoid wait: Go before 7pm for dinner

Noise level: Moderate

Bathroom amenities: Very clean on our visit, but no changing tables

High chairs? Yes

Got milk?  No. Kids can choose from bottled water, juice or pop.

Kids’ menu? Yes

Anything healthy for kids? Not on the kids’ menu, but there are healthy Mediterranean choices on the main menu.

Food allergy concerns? They do
not use peanut oil and can identify nuts in dishes. Food can be cooked separately with clean utensils. Let your server know.

“Mac and cheese and fries!” my seven-year-old daughter exclaimed.

 My family of four was ordering dinner at Damas, a new, casual Mediterranean restaurant in the Busch’s shopping plaza on Main Street. With a bevy of Mediterranean classics on the menu, how was it that my child picked an American staple like Mac and cheese?

 Maybe it was because the kids’ menu at Damas offers American standards they know kids will like: chicken tenders, chicken nuggets, Mac and cheese, or cheese pizza, each served with fries. Kids’ meals cost $4.99 and include pop or juice.

 My picky ten-year-old son, surprisingly, went straight for a Mediterranean classic off the main menu.

 “I’ll have the Shish Kebob without onions,” he ordered. “Or any vegetables.”

 “That’s how I eat it, too,” our server replied, smiling.

 Impressed by our kids’ decision-making, my husband and I continued to peruse the menu. Appetizers included items such as hummus and baba ghannouj for $3.99-$7.99. There were assorted sandwiches (think falafel and chicken shawarma) for about $5, lentil or veggie soup, salads such as fattoush ($6.99 for large), and “Damas Dishes” including Shish Tawook and Mujaddara ranging in price from $10-17.

Damas Dishes in a Syrian oasis

 We decided to share the Damas Dish for 2 ($24.79), which included hummus, pita, and a salad to start, then 2 tawook skewers (of marinated chicken with garlic sauce), 2 kafta skewers (of ground beef with spices and cucumber sauce), 2 falafel, and 2 grape leaves. We also ordered some baba ghannouj.

 While we waited, we took in Damas’ casual ambiance. Potted plants swayed in the breeze created by the whirring ceiling fans. Green walls, with pictures of Damascus and other parts of Syria, surrounded small booths and tables. It was like an oasis, diner-style.

 The hummus, baba ghannouj and salad were brought out shortly. I liked the tangy taste of tahini and garlic in the hummus, while finding the baba ghannouj somewhat bland. My husband disagreed, though, enjoying its smoky, eggplant flavor. The kids were excited to eat the plain pita bread, each piece individually wrapped in a baggie. The salad was flavorful, with crunchy lettuce and pita chips, complemented by a zesty vinegar and oil dressing.

Dash of cinnamon and Cardamon 

 Our main dishes came and my ten-year-old devoured his shish kebob. The meat had a tender, peppery flavor. He loved the rice served with it, too. “It’s sweet, not regular,” he said. That’s because, we found out, they cook the rice with cinnamon. Our daughter had no complaints about her Mac and cheese.

 Our Damas Dish for 2 impressed us with both sizeable portions and flavor. The tawook was juicy and tender with a pungent,  garlic sauce; the beef kafta tasted like a delicious Salisbury steak. I found the falafel dry, though, and I let my husband eat both grapes leaves because I’ve never been a fan.

 To finish our meal, we ordered baklava, honey cake, and Turkish coffee. My son licked his lips as he ate the baklava and the dense, sweet honey cake, which his little sister deemed too sweet. The Turkish coffee was lovely: strong and aromatic, with tastes of cinnamon and cardamom. I enjoyed its presentation on a decorative tray with matching pot and small cups: a fitting end to a comfortable meal of Mediterranean delights.