It’s time to get Syria about Middle Eastern food

The Brooklyn Paper
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Jouhan Daod was a household name in Syria when he was on the national soccer team. Though he’s lived in Brooklyn for 11 years, Daod is still serving his native land by transforming the Olive Vine Cafe on Court Street into Palmyra, which offers a Syrian take on Middle Eastern food.

Daod’s falafel, for example, is a bit nuttier and chunkier. His babaganouj is smokier. And his lamb pizza — a Syrian version called safiha — has a more nuanced salty-sweet taste thanks to a pomegranate molassas.

“We’re trying to go further than Olive Vine did,” said Daod, who opened Palmyra on Monday.

The menu certainly does that. Daod not only serves breakfast all day (try the Sultan, which is a mix of boiled eggs, humus, fava beans, cucumber and tomatoes, $9), but his menu goes beyond the usual grape leaves, salads and lentil soup to include panini sandwiches ($6), a burger ($8), Syrian red beans ($3), and bastorma (which sounds like “pastrami” because it tastes like it, too, $5).

And everyone in town offers chicken wings, but Palmyra’s jawaneh ($6) are transcendent: breaded and deep-fried, they’re juicy and a bit sweet — which makes a nice contrast to the hot dipping sauce. And believe it or not, the greatest surprise on the menu are the sweet potato fries ($6), which are crispy and addictive.

So, the soccer thing didn’t work out, but Daod is excited about his new venture.

“I have such a passion for food,” he said.

Palmyra [316 Court St. between Sackett and Degraw streets, (718) 797-1110].

Updated 7:17 am, February 12, 2010
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