E-mail this image
Sayat Nova, 157 E. Ohio St., Chicago
Who eats: Businesspeople, tourists and shoppers.
Why eat: Sayat Nova serves reasonably priced and tasty Armenian -- think Eastern Mediterranean -- food in somewhat exotic surroundings.
Ambience: The long, narrow room is dimly lit, emphasis on dim the farther from the windows you sit. Off-white stucco walls are contrasted with soothing purple in the seven intimate booths. Patterned brass fixtures cast soft, mysterious patterns on the ceiling. Tables, with white tablecloths and small vases of red and purple carnations, line the center of the room and fill the area near the windows. Though they are close together, the tables don't deter confidential conversations.
Dress code: Jeans and sweaters are as at home here as suits and ties.
Noise factor: New-age jazz plays pleasantly in the background, allowing and even enhancing conversation. It also provides a focal point so you're not tuned in to what your neighbor's saying.
Overheard: "You, I don't owe."
Service: The waiter was prompt, efficient and congenial. Appetizers, including yummy hummus with warm pita, were served within moments of our arrival while we made our entree selections.
Cellphone reception/Wi-Fi: Both are available.
Reservations: Accepted, generally not needed.
Menu: Vegetarian and meat appetizers that can make a fine meal. Soups and salads, the latter with a hint of mint. Chicken, beef and lamb like you've rarely had them before.
Reliable options: Hummus (chick-pea dip), baba ghanouj (eggplant dip), olives and Armenian string cheese and stuffed eggplant ($5 each from the appetizer menu); kebabs (chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, veggie -- $9.95-$17.95); pita pockets (chicken and lulla -- $9.95); combo plates, particularly the vegetarian option (plaki [beans], cheese or spinach boereg [phyllo pie], tabbouleh (bulgur wheat salad), green salad and rice ¿ $9.95); shawarma (charbroiled beef tenderloin with root vegetables -- $10.95); and kibbe, Sayat Nova's signature dish, a nicely seasoned lamb meatloaf.
Expect to pay: $15 to $20 per person with beverages.
Contacts: 312-644-9159 or sayatnovachicago.com.
-- Mary Jane Grandinetti
March 13, 2013