As my friends and I were being generally very tourist-like by taking pictures of everything in sight, a passerby couple stopped to urge us to go and try Khyber Pass, telling us that the food was delicious and how, no, they weren't being creepy at all. You know it's a good sign when a passerby assures you that they're not being creepy. ;)
As you can see in the picture, the restaurant is very uniquely decorated and has a pleasant ambiance. On the inside, the walls are covered with colourful Middle-Eastern tapestries and ornaments, and some cultural items, such as dresses and jewellery, are put on display. On the terrace, the walls vibrant flowers are painted onto the walls. While the terrace is nice, I strongly recommend sitting indoors (next to a window if you need the occasional breeze) in order to enjoy the full experience.
Accessibility - Grade: B+
It took us a 10 minute walk from Sherbrooke at a slow pace, but since the trajectory wasn't straightforward, I'm giving it a B+.
Service - Grade: C+
Our waiter did seem to have a bit of an attitude. He didn't smile much, and when we asked for a bit more time with the menu, he seemed annoyed. My friend and I told him we'd split a table d'hôte, and he stared at us before telling us we had to pay a minimum of $16.95 per person. He even did that thing where he wordlessly turns over the menu and taps at the part that says 'Minimum $16.95 per person'. Ugh, really? I know a lot of waiters don't like serving younger people because they assume we don't the money to tip them properly, but a customer is a customer regardless of their age, gender or race. He was pretty stuffy throughout our entire meal, but other than him, the rest of the waitstaff seemed nice, and we did get our food at a good pace.
Bonus Marks: Great first Afghan Cuisine experience.
|Complimentary bread and dip|
They started off by giving us a complimentary bread basket, as many restaurants do. Unlike most restaurants, the bread they served us was fresh and soft, and is accompanied by three different types of dip. The red dip, which I imagine is a tomato-based dip, is quite sour with a hint of spice. The green dip was salso sour, but had a bit of tangy sweetness to it as well, almost like relish. The white is a yogurt dip, though not quite as thick, and is subtly sour with a bit of the dairy sweetness. All three were quite good, but my favourite has to be the red one, since I'm a sucker for sour stuff. Yup. I can eat a lemon.
The Mantoo consisted of a plate of ravioli-like pastas stuffed with ground beef and onions, and topped with the customary tomato sauce and garlic yogurt, along with some mixed greens. The different ingredients in the dish all came together quite nicely. The ground beef and onion stuffy was juicy and sweet, the tomato sauce and spices were zesty, and the greens added a nice crunch to the whole thing.
|Kofta Chalaw with Basmati rice trio|
Wow. I don't usually eat lamb shanks because I find the taste of lamb to be too strong if not cooked properly. The lamb shank at Khyber Pass definitely did not have that problem. The meat was tender and juicy, and wasn't overly seasoned to mask the taste of lamb; instead, it's cooked in a manner where the natural taste of lamb is present, but not overwhelmingly so. The rice was nice balance of spiced and sweet, and despite the fact that I don't like raisins, I didn't feel the need to pick out the rainsins from the rice, since it blended in so nicely. The salad was herb-y and refreshing, a nice counterpart to the heavier foods on the plate.
Price - $$$
Since the everyone must pay at least $16.95, you can expect to walk out of the restaurant at least $20 short. Most of the entrées are around $20 before tax, so this restaurant definitely isn't a casual dining spot for students. However, it is a great place for special events or occasional dining.
Final Grade: B+Even though we were a bit miffed at the waiter's attitude, the food more than made up for it. If you're looking to try Afghan cuisine, or even just try something new and immerse yourself in another culture for one evening, Khyber Pass is definitely a good candidate!
506 Ave Duluth E,