- 313 E. Locust St., Des Moines, IA, 50309
- Overall User Rating:
- (15 ratings)
- Lunch Monday-Thursday: 11am-2:30 pm Friday-Saturday: 11:00am-2:30 pm Dinner Monday-Thursday 5:30 pm-10pm Friday&Saturday 5:30pm-12am Sunday 12pm-4pm
- Official Web Site:
When Open Sesame opened last winter with strikingly fresh and vivid Lebanese food and no opening-month jitters whatsoever, I thought a four-star review would come on the heels of my preview. Sadly, the place is turning out to be more hit-or-miss than I expected.
Decor: Ornate touches — stenciled minarets on the walls, red swags on the windows, carved wood tiles and fairy lights on the bar — add a romantic otherworldliness to the spot, which is best in the later evening, when the filigreed lanterns cast a glow about the room.
Menu: Lebanese dishes range from the familiar (hummus, gyro salads and platters, beef or chicken kabobs) to the lesser-known, such as kibbeh (a Middle East take on meatloaf) and kafta (Lebanese-spiced ground sirloin patties).
Best bites: I’ve not had hummus this good since I lived just off Atlantic Avenue (a hub of Middle Eastern food in Brooklyn, New York). Open Sesame’s version of the garlicky chick pea-based dip is smooth, dense and creamy, revealing a lush side of this specialty.
The falafel salad equally stood out; here, chunks of falafel were used as a kind of Middle-Eastern crouton, accompanied by feta, olives, that wonderful hummus and a windfall of fresh touches, including mint, green pepper, tomatoes.
And while a chicken kabob might sound unadventurous, this dish exploded with flavor, thanks to the tender chicken, a spicy garlic sauce, again that wonderful hummus and a thrilling mound of a tabbouleh that was more about the startlingly fresh herbs than the cracked wheat.
So, What’s My Gripe? Sadly, we encountered some clunkers, too. The gyro pizza — topped with gyro strips, feta, mozzarella, cucumber sauce and other goodies — brought an awesome concept foiled by a doughy, underdone crust. The Open Sesame Eggplant, with tasteless and mushy eggplant topped with a dull cracked wheat-based mixture, would do vegetarians no great favors.
Most dispiriting was the tough, overdone Lebanese steak, which cut like a dried-out pot roast and tasted about the same.
Service: Also hit-or-miss. The waitstaff ranged from admirably attentive to indifferent. About the latter, let’s just say that the server reading a book behind the bar (making us resort to getting up from our table to ask for the check) was simply not giving 20-percent service.
Bottom line: Ranges from sublime to dispiriting.