NYC Group Dinner at Mombar w/Dean & Kay 7/27

Dean & his wife Kay have been visiting NYC this week (as his many postings attest to) & he had asked to go to a Greek or Egyptian restaurant while here. I know him from when he owned 2 great restaurants in D.C. where I had had some very memorable (in a good way) meals, so I was happy to see him & Kay again in my habitat. I asked if he was interested in going to Mombar, a one man show on Steinway St where, for many years, I have known the owner/chef & have been part of group dinners thru CH and other food boards, as well as having dinner there with my wife a # of times. Dean said yes, so I contacted Mustafa, the owner/chef and asked if he was willing to serve a price fixed meal to a table of 10. So, last night he did and, at least in my opinion, we had a very good (and abundant) Egyptian home cooked meal. I’ll leave it to others to chime in as they see fit on what we ate (& maybe post pictures).


Okay, then! Round one: two kinds of hummus, both good, slight edge to the traditional; foul, which was excellent, and some very nice pita that I managed to eat only one of.


The brains of the operation. Reviews to follow from the people who ate this.


Lamb. Ditto.


Fish stew, with tilapia (inoffensive, nice texture), zucchini, celery and tomato.

fish stew

Couscous in a pyramid shape because Egypt, I guess.

cous cous

And a custard-filled pastry, which was lovely and seemingly seconds from the oven.


There was more offal that I didn’t get pictures of - perhaps someone who did will post them. Also some extra desserts prepared by @Saregama, one of which was a semolina cake, which the restaurant owner tasted and deemed “very close” to correct.

All in all, a very good - and enormous - meal, and great to see everyone, of course!


Thanks for the photos. Just to encourage more from the other camera wielders, we also had warm fresh beets with apples, cauliflower w/pomegranite syrup, sweetbreads & liver.

1 Like

(post deleted by author)

Thanks @SteveR for arranging - it was a lovely meal, food and otherwise!

Mustafa brought food out in courses, and he was cooking / finishing the next course as we devoured whatever he had brought out.

Here’s what I think we ate, in order:

1) Pita and accompaniments:
- Heated pita
- Ful - whole fava beans in sauce
- Traditional hummus - with a sprinkle of zaatar
- Roasted red pepper hummus

The hummus was lovely; I ate the ful cautiously because I thought there might be eggplant in there, but there wasn’t. Agree with @small_h that the traditional had the slight edge, though I do enjoy red pepper hummus too.

2) Vegetables:
- Sautéed cauliflower with zaatar
- Roasted beets with apples

These were both a nice mid-course. I loved the beets, which were well-cooked and had a nice sweet and tangy flavor balance, with generous olive oil.

3) Offal (what I call the “Steve courses”):
- Beef liver - sliced and sautéed with light spices
- Beef brain - cut into small pieces, breaded, and fried
- Beef sweetbreads - sautéed with onions and olives

Been ages since I ate any liver other than chicken, and this was very well prepared and spiced. I was impressed with the brain - very well prepared, and the breading was a good foil to the creaminess. The sweetbreads were my least favorite of this course, but also grew on me as I ate (they were too chewy for my taste, but the onions and olives were a good flavor boost).

4) Main courses (all but @small_h - who did not partake of the offal series - were already stuffed, and yet we marched on):
- Fish tajeen - tilapia, vegetables, tomatoes
- Lamb tajeen - lamb chunks, mixed vegetables
- Couscous - with raisins
- Shatta (hot sauce) - apparently homemade, because he dug it out of a giant vat when I requested some

I preferred the flavor profile of the fish tagine to the lamb, which was well-cooked but bland to my taste. So I asked Mustafa for hot sauce (he used the term harissa because he thought I would recognize it, but I believe what he gave me was a delicious shatta). The shatta was complex and flavorful and transformed the the lamb tagine for me.

5) Dessert - a course we were not expecting!
- Custard Kunafa / Knafh (this came frozen: he was putting it in the oven when I went to ask for the hot sauce) - absolutely wonderful filo pastry with a sweet custard filling (set not runny)
- Basbousa - Steve said he didn’t remember a dessert at past meals, so I took a stab at making this Egyptian semolina cake flavored with orange blossom and rose waters to stay with the theme (Mustafa kindly took a taste and said it was very good, but I should use yogurt and let it rest for a whole day next time, which would give it a tangy / fuller flavor)
- Brownies - It was Kay’s birthday and @Dean said she likes chocolate, so I also baked half a batch of Alice Medrich’s browned butter brownies (no nuts!)

There was lots of wine and lots of cold water too!

Thanks to @Dean and Kay for prompting this meal, and @SteveR for arranging everything with Mustafa. It was truly a one-man operation, very impressive for the food that was put out and the smooth progression of the meal!

I’d be happy to go back and try totally different things on the menu – the namesake mombar, mussels, besara / fava spread, Egyptian lamb chops, Egyptian steak, baked striped bass, and the lamb shank that someone else was eating while we were there!


1) Pita and accompaniments:

- Heated pita


- Ful


- Traditional hummus
- Roasted red pepper hummus


2) Vegetables:

- Sautéed cauliflower with zaatar


- Roasted beets with apples


3) Offal:

- Beef liver


- Beef brain


- Beef sweetbreads


4) Main courses:

- Fish tajeen


- Lamb tajeen


- Couscous


***- Shatta ***


5) Dessert

- Custard Kunafa / Knafh


- Basbousa


- Brownies



Our host

The front


Moar decor

Pita -these were quite good.

Liver. Earthy and funky in the best of ways. Cumin forward.

Beet and apple salad.

Brains. I usually do not like braind but these were quite good. Could have used more spice or just s&p.

Sweetbreads. I do not think Mustafa blanched these much if at all. The result was juicier and spongier than typical. Loved the onions and olives in this. One of my favs.

Cauliflower. Nice but got a little lost in the mix.

2 hummuses, regular and roasted red pepper. Amazingly smooth and tangy

Foul another favorite. Perfectly cooked, nicely seasoned.

Cous cous. Really nice but I was pretty stuffed.

Lamb. Just took a tiny taste. Loved the sauce. Wish I knew about the hot sauce. Lamb was nicely lamby and fall apart tender.

Lamb ready for its close up.

Fish. Did not even taste.

Great food
Nice people!
Thanks all, especially the dessert and wine bringers.


That looks like an awesome feast! Thanks for the reports and photos, everyone!

1 Like

we enjoyed the company, food and wine! it was great to meet Dean and Kay, Dean regaled us with stories of meeting Count Basie and Sondheim. Dean you really should find a way to tell your stories, if not in print, maybe on video, you are a great, great story teller.

thanks to Steve for arranging, Saregama for the wonderful desserts and Dave for the fabulous photos which I’m sure will arrive when he has a chance to stop eating and translating. :grinning:

ps first time eating brains and I feel so much smrter!


You have inspired me. Tentative tittle: a dissolute life but I eat well.


I’m ready to hit the subscribe button!