Saturday, May 1, 2021

Aba: The Greatest Hits

Aba: passion fruit gin and tonic
Passion fruit gin + tonic. Yes, please! 

In the past month, I have been fortunate to go to Aba twice for lunch. The first visit was quite good, and the second trip even better! Aba is a Mediterranean spot on South Congress in the new Music Lane (read: upscale) development; the original restaurant is in Chicago and this is now their second location. Here's a rundown of our foods with a little commentary. 😀 

Aba: whipped feta
Whipped feta with pistachios and pita bread. If you only order one thing at Aba, make it this. OMG. So creamy, not overly salty, and a basket of  warm pita which is doughier + fluffier than your standard pita.

Aba: hummus + short rib
Hummus with short ribs was quite tasty.
Aba: farro salad
I believe this was the farro salad with sunchokes; gorgeous presentation but to me it didn't have all the flavors the menu promised. (I actually don't see this version on the current menu.)
Aba: chicken kebab
Grilled chicken kebabs with wonderfully juicy chicken. The zhoug sauce (like a cilantro pesto) was a bit flat and needed more acidity to really shine.
Aba: frozen Greek yogurt
Frozen Greek yogurt with strawberry sauce was a refreshing palate cleanse at the end of our meal.

On to my second visit:

Aba: Ahi tuna tabouli
This ahi tuna tabouli was outstanding, and I am not one that gravitates to raw dishes. The tuna was like velvet, the pomegranate seeds offered the perfect texture and acidity along with a light bit of yuzu, and I like the mouthfeel of pearled couscous rather than cracked barley for a tabouli.
Aba: crispy potatoes
Very crispy potatoes, which I loved, served with a scallion crema.

Aba: Brussels sprouts
Big Brussels sprouts, with almond dukkah (a sumac-based seasoning) and honey harissa for a touch of sweetness. Great flavors.

Aba: eggplant + lamb
Aba: eggplant + lamb
Slow braised leg of lamb wrapped in eggplant. I love lamb and would eat this again in a heartbeat! It was very tender, the tomato sauce full of cinnamon, which may sound strange (though very typical of Mediterranean food), but so good!

Plan your visit ahead as getting a reservation can be challenging. Both times, we went for an early weekday lunch and were able to get seated in the outdoor breezeway with no problem. The design of the place is beauitful with a huge deck with lounge areas, tables, and a full bar; the majority of the seating is outdoors, nestled between old trees and new buildings. My photos of the exterior don't do it justice and hence not posted, but take my word for it. They also have a gluten free menu, and to-go parking in the below-ground lot.  The scope of South Congress is changing, loosing its once funky vibe, but Aba is a welcome and VERY delicious addition to the scene. 

Have you been? What foods did you enjoy?