281 Montgomery Ave, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
There are not a lot of bars in Bala Cynwyd. With the demise (change in ownership) of the venerable New Tavern, Al Dar Bistro remains the sole bar where on can order food with a beer and an Irish whiskey (the nearby Citroen and Rose unfortunately does not carry these as apparently distillers in the Emerald Isle do not care a whit about being certified Kosher… go figure?)
As my wife was taking an art class, I decided to dine solo, and this was close. I have an ailing dog at home, and didn’t want to travel far, because that’s just the kind of guy I am.
I generally do not seek out “Mediterranean” among my favorite ethnic cuisines, because, let’s face it… nobody speaks MEDITERRANEAN. Typically, this signifies a mish-mosh of Greek, Israeli, and Arab delicacies like hummus, baba ganoush, moussaka, falafel, and the odd kebab or two. Probably a few lamb dishes as well.
Looking at the specials, most were in the > $30 range. The regular menu dinner entrees were similarly priced. As I had heard the owners were Lebanese, I went for the Zaatar Encrusted Half Chicken. Zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice comprised of ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, or some combination thereof, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, and salt, though other spices such as sumac might also be added (mostly by Persian restaurants.) The price was a reasonable $23 and included fresh mashed potatoes, and a vegetable medley.
The bar was relatively full with what appeared to be “regulars.” The bartender was courteous but not overwhelmingly friendly (I am not a regular.) The draft system was inoperable, so I ordered a bottle of Stella ($6.95) I also downed two shots of Jameson, which though generous, ended up being $11 per (as compared to $6 at The Greeks in Narberth.) $11 is what New York hotel bars charge.
The chicken was very flavorfully marinated, with lots of garlic, and the Zaatar worked quite well. Skin was crispy, and the portion decently sized. The breast meat was a little dry, though. One should expect that a dish that typically requires 35 minutes to cook, would have been pre-staged to some point. Mashed potatoes were home made and excellent. Veggies were nicely seasoned, but slightly flabby.
Before tip (the menu says that they prefer gratuities in cash, by the way) the tab came to a little over $50. Not bad, I suppose, for a dinner in a reasonably nice atmosphere. I still couldn’t help thinking I could have had a half Peruvian chicken hot of the Rotiss at nearby Sardi’s with the same sides, and bought a fifth of Jameson Caskmates for less.