DINING OUT: Mediterranean home-cooking at Dar 525
“Dar” means “home” in Arabic and at Dar 525, the food and atmosphere are reminiscent of the comforts of home while also being far from homely.
Light from a fireplace in the main dining room casts a glow that bounces from framed mirrors to candle sconces on the walls, while high-backed, ornately carved, cushioned chairs sit alongside simpler, dark wood tables and chairs that blend seamlessly together, creating the feel of intimate cocoons inside the cavernous space located on a lively stretch of Grand Street between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street.
Also permeating the space is the aroma of mouthwatering authentic Mediterranean cuisine from North Africa and the Middle East, such as tabouleh, stuffed grape leaves, zaatar bread, couscous, falafel, lamb mergues and baklava.
Dig into the Combination Plate ($11) with your choice of five tapas and dips ($4-$6) and enjoy some homemade pita bread ($1), which arrive soft and fresh from the oven, made, like most of the menu, according to recipes from the chef’s mother.
The Muhamara roasted red pepper dip with walnuts, olive oil and spices is tangy with a light heat and chunky texture, while the Labne yogurt is cool and refreshing, and the Hummus is firm and creamy. We also recommend the savory Mousaka – sautéed eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic – and Foul – fava beans and tomatoes – as well as the Grape Leaves, which are warm and have a slight, pleasant tang.
If you’re in the mood for soup, try the Chicken or Lentil soups (both $5). Chock full of rice, chicken, cilantro, carrot and a lemon-infused broth, the chicken soup is perfect for a chilly day, while the red lentil soup is hearty and perfect when paired with a salad ($6-$8).
Entrée sandwiches ($5-$7) and platters ($8-$18) feature your choice of falafel, kebabs (vegetable, lamb, kafta, chicken), chicken gyro, mergues and mixed grill (your choice of three meats). All of the meats are tender, moist and juicy, and the falafel is surprisingly aromatic. The accompanying salad has a light dressing and the rice pilaf is soft and comforting.
The menu also includes contemporary dishes with Mediterranean flavors, as with the list of individual 10-inch pizzas ($10, except for the plain cheese, $6) offering toppings of sun-dried tomatoes, pistachio, goat cheese, shrimp and calamari, and a traditional safiha – ground lamb, beef, tomato, parsley, onion, spices and a hint of pomegranate molasses.
The DAR Burger ($11) with feta cheese and harissa cilantro mayonnaise is another winner, arriving with your choice of sweet potato or French fries. It is one of Dar 525’s signature specials, which also includes Chicken Tajine ($12) with apricot and almonds, Couscous with or without chicken ($9/$13), and Moroccan-style Grilled Tilapia Filet ($13).
There is always something for everyone at Dar 525, but whatever you order, make sure to cap it all off with a plate of sweet cinnamon-honey-walnut baklava ($3.50), delectable basbousa cake ($2.50) or fruit crepes filled with strawberries, bananas and pistachio and drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce ($5).
525 Grand Street
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Daily Happy Hour from 12 to 7 p.m.
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