Fresh Fruit Juices at Aladdin Mediterranean

Like many Houstonians, I have long enjoyed Aladdin's quality, reasonably priced Middle Eastern fare as their well generous BYOB policy.  It's a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say, to gobble down falafel and hummus with your own bottle of cheap pinot or a six-pack of hard cider.

Unfortunately, Aladdin's tolerance of outside beverages has, up until recently, discouraged me from trying any of their fresh-squeezed fruit juices, which I cannot help but admire as they sit, frosty and colorful, in a bucket of ice just beside the cash register.  My reluctance also stemmed from the price ($2.99), which seems a lot considering you pay the same amount for one of Aladdin's delicious pita bread pies. But if they are "fresh-squeezed," there must be some timely labor involved in the production, right?

This past weekend I left the wine at home and I paired my lovely plate of red snapper, cucumber dill salad, stuffed eggplant and rice with a tall glass of strawberry juice. Aladdin's menu lists mango, orange, strawberry and carrot as its official juice flavors. The day I went, they were out of carrot but did offer papaya-melon and strawberry-peach in addition to the other flavors.

My (plain) strawberry juice was smooth and sweet, a wonderful match for the nutty tones of the snapper's cashew sauce and the eggplant's pesto. The juice's uneven consistency, as well as the many strawberry seeds contained therein, suggested it emerged within the past two days from a small blender and not two months ago from a commercial-sized processing tank.

Although I heartily enjoyed my juice, it is still difficult to swallow spending such a disproportionate amount on a drink at a cheap BYOB place. Depending upon how you look at it, perhaps that is exactly why you should. Regardless, next time I'm going for the papaya.

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