October 30, 2018
This past Friday, we had the opportunity to explore another fresh adventure on our international Friday Happy Hour tour with a visit to Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen in West Hartford. According to their website, they offer “… an innovative menu drawing influence and inspiration from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Greece…” which was solidly evidenced during our Happy Hour experience. It is also a reminder that enjoying food and drink from other cultures is part of appreciating those cultures and the world we live in. If we can break bread together and toast each other, then we can share friendship and respect.
The Influence of Mediterranean Hospitality
Shines In The Warm Welcome And Friendly Service
With lots of windows opening toward Farmington Avenue and an uncluttered, contemporary interior design. Zohara has a surprisingly bright, open feeling that defies traditional stereotypes of what a Mediterranean restaurant should look like. On the other hand, the service exemplifies the strong emphasis on hospitality across cultures throughout the region.
Stephanie, who was thebartender when I arrived, was all smiles and patience as she answered my questions about the drinks and the food. One of the first questions she asked me was if I had any food allergies or issues before making any recommendations. A simple but important question, especially when the menu featured a lot of unfamiliar terms. (I’m still trying to master my native English and have just enough exposure to some of the romance languages –Spanish, French, Italian — to get myself in trouble, but beyond that I’m totally lost.)
As Happy Hour started to pick up, Stephanie was joined behind the bar by Victoria. Both were attentive, delightfully friendly and constantly smiling as if they really enjoyed what they were doing. It left me with a good feeling about Zohara and a desire to come back again. And that’s how hospitality is done right!
Surprising Cocktail Ingredients Reward The Adventurous
With Unexpected Enjoyment
While I constantly look for Happy Hour cocktails that are unique, the cocktails at Zohara featured some ingredients that gave me pause, such as carrot juice and especially beet juice. I confess that the carrot juice was an easier choice for me to accept than the beet juice. Growing up, I hated it when my mother cooked beets. I simply couldn’t stand them. However, a mixologist and reviewer must make sacrifices for her work, so I bit the proverbial bullet and was totally surprised.
My first drink was the 24 Carrot (Vodka, Cardamom, Carrot Juice, Honey & Lemon) for $6. It was refreshingly bright with a lively tartness that was tempered perfectly by the underlying sweetness. It’s the kind of drink that can change your perspective on even a terrible Friday and lighten your mood. It is a apparently very popular with Zohara’s customers and definitely a must try!
My second drink was ordered with a bit of trepidation. In fact, I postponed the decision longer than usual, but in the end said, “Let’s do it!” The drink in question was the Root Down (Bourbon, Dry Curacao, Beet Juice, Star Anise, Lemon Juice & Turmeric) also for $6. Befitting the name, there was an initial earthiness to the taste which slowly grew into a pleasing warmth. I was totally amazed at how the combination worked so well together and actually recommend it!
This is a Happy Hour where you can live adventurously and taste new worlds! Go for it!
A Satisfying Journey Into Intriguing Flavors
Awaits Those Who Ditch Wings And Really Fly
Wings have become ubiquitous at American Happy Hours. And while I do enjoy wings sometimes, I crave more interesting fare to go with my drinks. Fortunately, Zohara goes to great lengths to be different with foods that will wake up your taste buds. It’s a fresh approach to spices and textures as well as main ingredients that may be individually familiar but presented in an unexpected fashion.
As part of that unexpected fashion, I was fascinated by their Famous Moroccan Lamb Cigars on the menu. I will confess that I love lamb just about any way you can fix it, so I simply had to try a Moroccan Lamb Cigar. Essentially, it’s spiced ground lamb wrapped in phyllo dough that resembles a long cigar. It comes out crispy and is served with a cucumber yogurt dipping sauce. The lamb was simply delicious with a hint of cinnamon and its texture worked nicely with the crunch of the phyllo shell while the cucumber yogurt added a cooling freshness to the mix. The first one was so good, I had to order two more. And at only $2 each, you’ll want to order several yourself.
For my second appetizer, I opted for the Lamb Kofta for $5. Essentially a lamb kabob, it featured two pieces of grilled lamb with tomato, onion and a hot pepper plus a pita pocket to make a sandwich. Again, another wonderful mix of flavor and texture that made eating exciting … and fun. (Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the picture I took of the Lamb Kofta didn’t turn out until after I had eaten it. Oops.)
When you’re ready to treat your taste buds to something fresh, start here!
I’m sure by now you have no doubt about my rating for Friday Happy Hour at Zohara. From the atmosphere and service to the drinks and food, Zohara delivers its own unique and extremely enjoyable combination of Mediterranean hospitality and flavors that you won’t find anywhere else. As a result, it has earned my highest rating of ***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED***!
Visit their website at zohara.com for more information and then check them out for yourself this Friday and let us know what you think!
Tell them the Dark Diva sent you!