Westfield Franklin Park Mall Food Court
5001 Monroe Street
Toledo OH 43623
Level 1, Store FC3
Phone: (419) 720-7899
No Web Site Found
The user Zach_baroudi over on Toledo Talk (a local forum based site) started a thread about his father's restaurant, Kabob It, which (according to Zach_baroudi) has everything – incredibly low prices, the best Lebanese food in town, friendly service and grape leaves to die for. How could I resist? I went to see a movie this afternoon and had lunch afterward. Consider this before you read my review: The phrase shish kabob is defined as “A dish consisting of pieces of seasoned meat and sometimes vegetables roasted on skewers and served with condiments.” The word kabob meaning cooked, or burnt lamb (or meat) and shish meaning skewer. As usual, the people in the United States got hold of it and screwed it up royally, switching the meanings of the two words so as to create such authentic Mediterranean dishes as chicken kabobs, turkey kabobs and veggie kabobs. Somewhere there's a Bedouin turning over in his grave.
I've eaten at Kabob It on several occasions. I've had the gyro sandwich, the felafel, the fattoush, several side dishes and today I had the houmous and the grape leaves (both meat filled and vegetarian). I spent about $12 on lunch and was reminded of just why I don't eat in the food court more often.
|My $12.00 Lunch|
Food court restaurants are in a league of their own on several levels. The rent for a space inside the mall is prohibitive, so if a restaurant remains solvent for more than a few months it's either because the place is good enough to survive both the economy and the competition, or it's losing money and the owner is supporting it with the proceeds from other enterprises. In addition to the rent, the owner has no control over the atmosphere and only partial control over signage, appearance and hours of operation. If an entrepreneur wants to try a different lighting scheme, he's out of luck. The same thing is true for signage. If the owner of Kabob It wanted to install a billboard sized neon sign featuring the Great Pyramid and a hookah smoking Sultan reclining on a pile of satin cushions surrounded by sixteen dancing girls in the final stages of the dance of the seven veils – well, it sounds good but the mall has made up rules against such things. To bad, too.
The food court at Westfield Mall is a lot like any inner-city high school cafeteria with a strong Toledo Police presence. The acoustics produce echos that encourage the under five set to scream bloody murder so they can hear the echo. The parents of these future public school cheerleaders have yet to discover that if you place the noise maker in a large bucket of water head first, the racket will stop. I suppose it's equally possible that the parent or child custodian lives near the airport and has been permanently deafened by the constant scream of the jet engines from the planes passing overhead. My point here is that there is no real ambiance, and this doesn't help the enjoyment of the food. Therefore I'm telling you up front what you're getting into if you eat at the food court, and I'm ignoring a rating on the ambiance or lack thereof in this review.
In contrast to the ambiance, the service at most food court restaurants is good. It has to be if the place is going to stay in business, because while the teenagers don't know the difference between good and bad service, their five second attention span means that they won't wait too long to get served. At the same time the adult patrons are not going to put up with much crap with a dozen other slop houses right next door – literally. That said, the service at Kabob It is better than the competitors. The staff doesn't try and greet you while you're thirty feet away and trying to make up your mind as to which place you'd like to patronize. This isn't true for most of the restaurants in the food court, and the tactics they use are more than slightly reminiscent of the doormen employed by Bourbon Street strip clubs. Once you get in line you'll be greeted and the counter person waits patiently for you to decide on the menu items you'd like and doesn't pester you with a bunch of suggestive selling – Would you like that in a combo? is a sure way to get me to leave. I like the service at Kabob It. I find it a refreshing change from the multitasking dimwits that I usually encounter who have been carefully trained to never, ever have a thought of their very own. Think about that one for a second.
While Zach_baroudi raves about the high quality of the food at Kabob It, I'm a little less enthusiastic. The gyro sandwich, which is my favorite so far, is fine. It's better food than you'll get inside the food court, but that doesn't mean it's the best in Toledo. It's good, no more, no less. The felafel generally gets left in the fryer too long, but it isn't bad. Again, no culinary delight, but generally preferable to the mystery meat served at the oriental slop house a few doors down. I tried both meat filled and vegetarian grape leaves, and the quality of the two isn't even close. The vegetarian grape leaves are a clear winner. The meat filled – not so much. In fact, I advise the chef to take whatever he's doing with the vegetarian leaves and apply it to the meat filled leaves. The really bad news is the houmous. The houmous is loaded with salt, and I mean loaded. I have no idea if the chef at Kabob It makes his own houmous or buys it from a supplier, but whatever is happening has to change if Kabob It expects to attract patrons who are over 25. The only good news here is that if the chef is making his own houmous, he can correct this situation by tomorrow simply by failing to add several pounds of salt to the houmous. Until then, avoid the houmous. Don't even let it get on your plate, or it will contaminate your entire lunch with salt. Man, is that stuff bad.
If you decide to forego lunch at a regular restaurant in favor of the food court and you don't feel like eating a mystery substance prepared for your consumption in a deep fryer and comprised of generous portions of caffeine, corn syrup, animal fat and optionally colors not found in nature, then Kabob It is a viable option. I'll probably eat there again when school starts and the crowd thins out.
- Ambiance: Not Rated - Shopping Mall Food Court.
- Service: 8; Nice people, helpful without being pushy.
- Food: 7; Too salty, but your mileage may vary.
Overall rating: 7.5.