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Al Hamra buffet

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Rich S

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Al Hamra buffet

by Rich S » Sun May 26, 2019 7:36 pm

This sounds interesting: A halal Mediterranean buffet at Mid City Mall. Apparently it opened today (May 26) on the Bardstown Road side of the building, next to Subway. A story in Derby City Weekend offers a few details:

"The owner, Ibrahim Qasim, says his family is originally from Jordan and Jerusalem. He wanted to offer authentic Middle Eastern food to people here in the Louisville area. The family also operates Falafel House off of Bardstown Road.
Al Hamra will be a buffet open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Qasim said you can expect all of your traditional Mediterranean favorites that include vegan, vegetarian, meat, halal, and kosher foods."

I wasn't able to find a Facebook page or website, but there is a Yelp page with (at this point) one review and several photos of the buffet.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/alhamra-buffet ... louisville

https://www.derbycityweekend.com/new-me ... open-soon/
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Robin Garr

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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by Robin Garr » Sun May 26, 2019 9:15 pm

Sounds interesting, Rich! I had heard a friend talking about this, but thought he might have confused it with the ramen place. Thanks for the report!
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Bill Veneman

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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by Bill Veneman » Mon May 27, 2019 11:59 am

Very glad to hear this...I've been keeping an eye on the progress....I'll have to go and check it out...the picks in the YELP post look incredible!
If life's a Banquet, what's with all the Tofu?

Cheers!

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Ron H

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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by Ron H » Tue May 28, 2019 3:45 pm

What are the hours? I was thinking about making a pig of myself after work today... and also, what's the price per head? Can't find any solid information on it yet.
"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2000 of something." - Mitch Hedberg
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Iggy C

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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by Iggy C » Tue May 28, 2019 5:07 pm

I went yesterday and liked it a lot. A Middle Eastern buffet is kind of a novelty, and they did a good job with it, particularly on the unexpectedly wide selection, as well as the quality. Frankly there was too much for me to try or remember.

Here are my scattered impressions:

I often am annoyed at Middle Eastern places because of their arbitrary restrictions on side dishes, like, you can have hummus but not taboulleh with your platter, this kind of salad but not that, or they nickel-and-dime you for toppings on your shawarma sandwich. Al Hamra solves this problem.

The selection was great: fresh salads, like tabbouleh, tomato cucumber salad, beets, grape leaves, pink pickled turnips and other pickles.

-Meats included chicken breast kebabs, ground beef kebabs, chicken pieces in a balsamic onion sauce, and meatballs in tahini sauce. They also had grilled chicken pieces with peppers, kibbe, and some kind of baked fish.

-At least three rice dishes, including mujadarah. I especially liked the roasted spiced cauliflower and stuffed zucchini.

-Dips: two kinds of hummus, a baba ganoush plus a second smoked eggplant dish, and a dark tomato-onion oily sauce.

-There were tons of things I didn’t try, like some kind of cheesy spinach casserole, a fried pita bread salad, and what appeared to be home fries. There was lentil soup and a tomato soup, too.

-For dessert there were two kinds of baklava, dates, and fresh fruit like sliced watermelon and grapes.

-My only quibble was with the pita, which did not strike me as looking especially enticing compared to the best bread served in our area at places like Al Watan, Dino’s, or Al Farat. It didn’t appeal to me, so I didn’t try it. On the plus side, though, they do provide one of those conveyor toasters, so maybe it’s great after you toast it, I don’t know.

-No gyro meat, no tzatziki/yogurt sauce, no toum, no zhoug, no harissa. Except for the zhoug and the toum, I can’t say I really missed any of these things, but maybe you will. And who knows, maybe they’ll show up at some point. Or maybe they were there and I overlooked them.

-Kleenex on the table instead of napkins – I give them a pass here because they just opened.

-It keeps the exact same layout as the old Chinese buffet, and mostly the same décor.

-It’s a buffet, and I was judging it right on opening day 10 minutes after it opened, when the food was hot, the kebabs were clearly right off the grill, and things were clean.

-The price per head is $14, which is a lot higher than the Chinese buffet it replaced, and somewhat more than the typical Indian buffets, but which I found to be a reasonable amount given the selection and quality. Indian places never give you such a variety of fresh salads, so it’s a nice contrast to them in that respect.

-You can also get takeout for $9/lb, which seems like a good deal, too.

-It’s in a part of town that is relatively underserved in terms of buffets that I want to go to. So for me, the location is a plus.

-Hours are weird: Sunday and Monday: 1-10 pm; every other day 10 am-10 pm. I meant to ask if that was actually correct, or if the sign just hadn’t been flipped for every day yet, but I forgot in my post-buffet stupor.

-A website with the hours and the menu would be nice. I assume that is forthcoming.

Anyway, I hope the place does well; it clearly fills an underserved niche, and there seemed to be a lot of customers. Definitely a big improvement from the buffet it replaced.
Last edited by Iggy C on Tue May 28, 2019 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by Robin Garr » Tue May 28, 2019 7:29 pm

Thanks for the very detailed reply, Iggy!
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Mary Anne

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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by Mary Anne » Wed May 29, 2019 7:17 am

Please note on their Facebook page yesterday morning they posted they will not be opening until 4 pm during Ramadan, back to the above mentioned hours June 5th. I had intended to stop by for lunch yesterday...
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Ron H

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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by Ron H » Wed May 29, 2019 8:47 am

So while Iggy was posting, I was eating. :lol:

For dinner and a drink, I got out at about $19, which wasn't bad because I literally ate a little bit of everything. They didn't have tzaziki, which was kind of a bummer, but the fatoush (the fried pita salad) was great, and the special salad (that oil/tomato/pepper thing) was incredible on top of the spicy hummus. The pitas were just pitas, but after toasting them they were fine carriers for all the other tasty stuff.

Highlights: the ground beef kabobs, the kufta meatballs in tahini, the tandoori-style chicken chunks and the roasted chicken in a lemony sauce, that roasted or baked seasoned cauliflower, the majudarah, and the lamb in yogurt soup.

Lowlights: the spicy potatoes were just pretty much home fries. Good, but nothing too special. There was nothing I tried that I didn't like, even the stuffed grape leaves (which I don't like) were tasty. The bones in the lamb were annoying, but I also hate the bones in goat at Indian buffets.

If you can call it a lowlight, there was a LOT of stuff, and some things I didn't even try. For all I know, there's tzaziki and harissa somewhere on there, and I just walked past it. The selection is incredible, and everything was fresh and delicious, which is tough to pull off on a buffet. Even the buffet salad wasn't a disappointment.

Long story short, I didn't need to know that was there, because now I'll go back every week.
"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2000 of something." - Mitch Hedberg
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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by neal.johnson » Fri May 31, 2019 9:01 am

We went last night. They do have tzatziki but it's labeled 'cucumber yogurt' with all the salads. Looked like no one even touched it before I scooped some on my plate. Everything was very good and warm. Pita was meh. They have a whole lamb carving station but it was already picked over pretty good. Staff is very friendly and attentive. My only gripe was the box of Kleenex for napkins. That was maddening.
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Re: Al Hamra buffet

by James Natsis » Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:15 pm

I had lunch there this afternoon and spoke with Ibrahim for a good 30 minutes afterwards. I introduced him to the hotbytes forum and we discussed some of the commentary here and elsewhere. He and his brothers are committed to understanding and serving their clientele.

They had been slammed from the starting gate due to the timing of the religious holidays. I can attest to that as I had tried to have lunch there earlier this week and couldn't even get into the door (just so happened to be Eid al fitr). So things have settled down and, yes, they do have regular napkins now.


They decided to charge a blanket $15.99 price for the buffet lunch, evenings or weekends because of the similar offerings at all times. I had a number of years stretch where I was going through Niagara with students on the way to and back from Quebec and eating ritually at one of the several Indian buffets for dinner that cost about $17 or so. It was money well spent there in Niagara, and well spent here at Al Hamra. The food is creative, there are many choices, and it is of a quality that exceeds the average buffet.

For those looking for a good $8.99 Chinese buffet in town, or a good Indian buffet for 10-11.99, there are many solid choices. And for those looking for a good Mediterranean style buffet for $15.99, I would say that Al Hamra will earn the patronage of a lot of people in town, especially those who can enjoy eating whatever they wish without having to worry if the meat in any of the dishes is halal or kosher. Mabrouk, Ibrahim, and may you and your brothers enjoy the same prosperity at Al Hamra as you have down the street at the Falafel House.
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