For those of you that have lived in the city for awhile, perhaps you recall a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant called the Magic Carpet. It was located t in the Village, on Carmine Street. Remember? I certainly do. It was there for 30 years, I loved that place! Well . . . because of the drastic rent rate increase (a story too often told) Magic Carpet had to move out . . . they are now in in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The wonderful same owner, the same terrific food - just the name has changed. It is now First Oasis.
It was wonderful to see Said Albahr again, a native of Syria. He is not only is the owner of First Oasis, but the head-chef as well. He has now had First Oasis twelve years. I asked him how things were going, and he responded that he missed the excitement of the city, and range of serving hungry tourists from all over the world.
First Oasis is an attractive place with ornate colorful light fixtures and some wonderful retro photographs of Old Damascus. And the food, ah yes, Said still has that magic touch! I started with Babaghanuj (char-grilled eggplant, blended with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley, followed by and a wonderfully fresh crisp, and crunchy Fattoush Salad (lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, mint, parsley, green pepper and garlic tossed with with bits of toasted pita bread). For my entree recalling the several times I ate at Magic Carpet the terrific Beef Kababs they served up . . . I am pleased to say, he still grills the marinated beef just like I love it, tender but with that slight burnt char-grilled taste.
I had a sense from speaking with Said that the business is not as booming as the Magic Carpet was. I encourage all if you are interested in food from this region, to make the trek on the R to Bay Ridge and treat yourself to a wonderful dinner and the kindness of Said Albahr.
Address - 9218 4th Avenue (718) 238 - 4506
Interesting fact about Syria - Syria gained independence from France in 1946.