Any body know what is going in at the old Ali Baba location on campus?
Pera Opens in Former Ali Baba Space on Campus
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A new restaurant is going in, called Pura if I recall correctly. Their signage was just approved by the University Area Review Board. I'm hazier on what kind of food, maybe Turkish?
I didn't know Ali Baba went out.. damn I liked their stuff.
Just saw that they had a temporary sign put up. Pera - Fresh Istanbul Food
Looks like they have all the counters and tables set up, just some finishing work to do? Maybe they're planning to open up when all the students are back from winter break.
I wonder if it's the same people? It looks like the same type of food and they started work on it pretty much as soon as Ali Baba closed, but it's hard to imagine they'd close down for 6+ months or however long its been just to re-brand.
Pera opened up over the weekend and I tried it out for lunch today.
It is essentially Ali Baba reconfigured as a chipotle/piada/fresh 50/etc. etc.. assembly line type place. You can even get a burrito (wrap). The style/decorations are more like a chipotle now as well, rather than the cartoony middle eastern drawings on the wall of the old place.
The menu is simplified. You pick wrap, sandwich, or bowl. Meats/falafel/salad. Pick out toppings. Sides are $2 extra (babaganoush, eggplant, etc.).
The food quality is better.. the things I liked (falafel, babaganoush) are the same as Ali Baba was. The things I didn't like (stale microwaved bread) have been improved quite a bit. The bread is more substantial, has sesame seeds, and gets heated in an oven. They also have soups now. The lentil was pretty much what I expected to get.. nothing mind blowing but just what good lentil soup should be.
I think I liked the configuration of the old place better. I was wishing I could have gotten my falafel platter,, but the food is better now and following the chipotle style trend is probably a good idea for them to make more money and be more viable. This new configuration should probably make it quite a bit faster to get your food. They seem set up to have a large line of people moving through and getting out of there with their wraps in hand.
Pera Brings Fresh Istanbul Food to University District
After a decade at Easton, Cafe Istanbul is rapidly expanding into other neighborhoods. Owner and executive chef Faith Gunal opened a second location last year in Bexley, and recently launched Pera, a fast-casual concept spin-off in The University District.
READ MORE: http://www.columbusunderground.com/pera-brings-fresh-istanbul-food-to-university-district
Never have seen this place very busy, but thought it was decent when I tried it out last quarter.
Can we get an Indian Piada next?
The food at Pera is not better. The place is always empty now, too, so no worries about your food taking a long time because you'll be first in line. I predict it will be gone by next summer.
Does anyone know what happened to Ali Baba? I used to have lunch there 3 times a a week. I want their hummus recipe. Sigh....Posted 9 months ago #
I like this concept. It's Pita Hut with a better distribution of toppings, i.e. not all the hot sauce is in the first three bites. I went when it first opened and thought it was pretty good. I have been back numerous times and have noticed the decline in both traffic and quality. The meats are now very dry, since they sit in a warmer for long periods instead of being sliced directly off the spit. I would like to see them stick around but it does seem as if they are sliding in the wrong direction.Posted 9 months ago #
Roland and I stopped in last night. Very few people in Pera, though it was pretty late for dinner.
I agree with some of the comments about the meats being dry. I had the chicken and while the flavor was good, it was lacking sauce. Otherwise, I thought everything was pretty good. There's always a little bit of a learning curve at a "pick your own toppings" place, so I can imagine it being very good given a little more trial and error of my part picking things out.
They were doing some sort of deal where chicken wraps were only $5, so it was $7 with a drink which I thought was very cheap for the large portion size.
Everyone is correct that the format/decor is very closely related to Chipotle/Piada. But I don't really see that as a bad thing.
The campus location is a bit of a dealbreaker for me. I rarely eat in this area, but happened to be at a Wexner Center event, so we walked a few blocks to try it out. If there were one Downtown, I'm sure it would do quite well during lunch. Could easily see a Grandview/5xNW location working well for them too. If I'm on campus again and craving this type of food, I'd certainly go here again.Posted 7 months ago #
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