Pita Bell Kabab
Address: 1696 Carling Ave, Ottawa
Hours: 12 – 9:30pm (Sun – Tue, Thu), closed Wed, 12 – 10pm (Fri – Sat)
After seeing rave reviews of Pita Bell Kabab for years, I finally got to try them out as part of my birthday weekend back in the fall.
I have to admit that a big part of the allure for my push to try PBK was their stunning copper platters that they serve some of their larger, family-sized meals on. While I have a great little family of two, I recruited my sister and her brood to up our numbers and keep the leftovers to a reasonable level.
Despite arriving fairly early at 5pm on a Saturday to accommodate the kids’ mealtime, Pita Bell was already packed and had a half hour wait. We killed the time fairly easily and the weather was disturbingly nice for late October, so it was manageable. The time estimate was spot on, although when we got in, I heard that the wait was now up to an hour! They don’t do reservations, so plan accordingly.
I had done my menu due diligence well beforehand, so ordering was easy. In the Family Platters section, we went with the Pita Bell Mix ($90). This hefty boi comes with 10 skewers (4 Adana kabab, 3 shish taouk, and 3 filet mignon), grilled veg, heaps of rice, salad, and pita bread to go with the hummus and toum. To have some more options for some picky eater kids and for my own culinary curiosity, we also ordered two pides (Turkish flatbreads) – one topped with mozza and the other with feta ($15 each). A pot of Turkish tea ($8) would keep us nicely hydrated.
Despite warnings of a bit of a wait from the kitchen, food came out quite quickly.
The salad was bright and refreshing and a good size that was certainly in proportion to the food that was to come. An herbaceous vinaigrette that bordered on a cream dressing added some flavour to what was otherwise a standard garden salad.
The hummus was smooth and savoury, while the toum’s signature garlicky punch enhanced anything that was dipped in it. There was plenty of pita bread provided for such a thing.
Our meal’s main attraction did not disappoint! The meat, rice and grilled veg came on a beautifully designed copper platter which was about a metre in length. You’re going to need a big table if you’re ordering this!
The meats were masterfully cooked on Pita Bell’s charcoal grill. The filet mignon was medium rare and tender, and the breast meat of the shish taouk didn’t have a hint of dryness. I really liked the Adana kababs, which were also moist and tender, but had the spiciest kick of any part of our meal (other than the grilled hot peppers).
With two massive mounds of rice bookending the platter, there was no shortage of carbs, and the raisins and almonds that dotted it added texture and pops of sweetness.
And while it’s a small thing, a special shout-out goes to the pieces of pita that were under the meat, sopping up all those tasty drippings!
Our feast didn’t stop here though! The Turkish pides were a pleasant, if unnecessary, addition to our bountiful meal. The bread was a bit thicker than a thin crust, Neopolitan pizza and had a pleasant chew and good crispness to it. The creamy and salty feta one earned my top marks, while the kids preferred the mozza. Shocker, I know.
I’m late to the game and reporting what large portions of Ottawa’s population already knows, but Pita Bell Kabab is in the upper echelons of the city’s Middle Eastern cuisine. That won’t keep me from singing their praises and eagerly coming back though!