I live close to La Fendee Grill, and I love Mediterranean food, but I hadn't been to La Fendee in more than three years. And even when I did go to La Fendee, I don't think I ever ate there. The few times I visited were spent on the patio overlooking Westheimer, taking advantage of the BYOB policy and free wi-fi while smoking strawberry-flavored tobacco.
Groupon was offering $10 for $20, and I took this opportunity to try the food. As I pulled in, I remembered one of the reasons why I tend to overlook La Fendee: the tiny parking lot. During peak hours the lot fills up quickly, as do the spaces in the neighborhood.
The casual atmosphere of the family-owned restaurant is one of the reasons why I would come back to La Fendee. A few tables inside were occupied by patrons drinking tea and typing on their laptops, and at a few tables outside couples were happily drinking wine and sharing appetizers. The owner greeted me cheerfully and directed me to sit wherever I liked.
With $20 I was able to order the beef kabob entree ($13.99) -- grilled beef served on a bed of rice, served with a side of hummus, grilled tomatoes and onions, with pita bread -- and a chicken shawarma ($5.95).
The food arrived within minutes of my ordering it, and if I had just eaten with my eyes the beef kebab plate would've been amazing. But overall, the dish was disappointing. Every bite seemed to lack just a little something. Some pieces of the beef were cooked to a perfect medium-rare, while others were overcooked. The rice was bland, and only the sprinkling of parsley gave it any flavor.
The hummus was where I was most disappointed, as it had no taste to it at all, and the texture once it sat for just a few minutes became very chalky. I was surprised that it did not come with a side of tahini or garlic sauce. The menu listed them as additions for an extra charge. I ordered a side of hot sauce that I added to everything to help get some flavor into the dish. I was curious to know where the pita bread was from, and the waiter informed me it was a local place but did not disclose where. The bread was good, but I would have preferred it to be softer.
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The shawarma I had at the Fez Express truck was so good that surely a brick and mortar place would be just as good if not better, but sadly, it too suffered from blandness. The garlic sauce was just creamy and had no garlic punch to it. The chicken itself consisted of large chunks of dark meat instead of slices that would come off a vertical rotisserie. I even got a few pieces of gristle. The slices of tomato and slivers of pickles helped to bring a little sweet and sour action, but overall the sandwich was flat.
Would I return to La Fendee with a discount? I will be back for the hookah and the atmosphere when the weather lends itself to sitting on the patio, and I may give the food another go, as there are many other items to try that could be better, such as the baba ghanoush and the falafel.