For two days straight I was having naughty thoughts involving baba ghanoush from Shouk. Naughty as in good.
Shouk is a Middle Eastern restaurant and shisha lounge located at 6th and Bainbridge that specializes in small plates of Israeli food. Shouk opened February 2006, and, by coincidence, my partner and I were strolling past the first night the restaurant and lounge opened. The glowing sign of a hookah (a.k.a. shisha) hanging over the sidewalk enticed us. We were escorted past the mosaic dining tables downstairs and lead upstairs to a dark, plush, Moroccan-esque shisha lounge. As we smoked fruit flavored tobacco, hunkered comfortably in cushions, friends of the owners showed up to celebrate the opening and generously shared their wine with us.
Back at Shouk the other week, we ordered a handful of reasonably priced small plates. Let me exclaim that the baba ghanoush is dreamy! It has a smooth, creamy texture with subtle, smoky flavor and not a trace of bitterness from tahini. I would love to get this recipe. Can I pretend to be a famous magazine, call them up, and get the recipe?
Halloumi is on the menu, so we had to get that. We also ordered beet and feta salad, and tomato and carrot couscous. Everything was spectacular! The couscous was good, but probably the blandest and most ordinary dish we ordered. I was trying to see what was in the couscous, but the lights were so dim, that I could not make out the colors of the ingredients. The brighter colors of the other dishes were distinguishable, though. I wouldn’t turn the lights up, as low lights combined with alcohol (they have excellent martinis), tobacco, and hip music make for a great date.
It’s not everyday that pineapple is on a restaurant’s dessert menu, so we ordered the homemade pineapple tart. Excellent, but the side crust was a little too thick. Now, I’m just being picky! Feed me pineapple tart any day!
I can’t wait to go back to Shouk, gorge myself, smoke a hookah, and make out…with the baba ghanoush!
Shouk, 622 S. Sixth St., Philadelphia, PA, 19103, (215)-627-3344
Tues.-Thurs., 6-11pm; Fri.-Sat., 6pm-midnight; Sun., 6pm-11pm