Afghan Grill, Woodley Park

After reading largely positive comments about Afghan Grill, I decided to give it a try for carryout. As I was driving, a friend called in for the order which we cobbled together in the car via cell phone, then turned to me after placing it, and said “it’s seventy-six dollars.”

“That’s too much,” I said, and then a flurry of activity occurred (which included them calling back to offer a discount (it was, after all, a frigid Sunday evening)). Enough miscommunication was going on where I finally decided to walk in and order in person, then return for the order after running an errand.

Afghan Grill has a surprisingly charming dining room (it’s a very drab exterior and entryway to this second-floor restaurant), and the gentleman who took my order was very friendly – I could see a lady in the kitchen cooking, and an adorable little girl walked out from the kitchen.

I placed an order for Kachalou Chalow with Lamb ($16), Beef Teka Kabob ($16.75), and asked if it came with bread (yes) and yogurt (no), so added a Cucumber Salad ($5.95). I asked how large the portions were, and the gentleman told me they were “individual-sized.” I wanted to add a little something, but didn’t want to run up the tab with another entree, so he recommended a Side Order of Chicken ($4). The bill came, with tax, to a gentler $46.97, and I left a $3 tip (granted, not a king’s ransom, but this is tourist trap Woodley Park), then went to do my errand.

“This place is going to be good,” I said when I walked out.

When I got home, I started unraveling the large, thin plastic bag which had been overstuffed with styrofoam, and leaked (*) when one of the containers snapped. After I had opened up everything and plated, I said, “this can’t be right.”

There was very little food to show for what I had just paid. The Kachalou Chalow with Lamb was in one of those little containers that’s about the size of a piece of bread, and contained no more than half a potato, sliced, along with four bite-sized nuggets (not chunks, but nuggets) of lamb, all simmered in spices, garlic, and onion. There was also a large container of decent rice which I presume accompanied this dish. This was $16?! Aside from the rice (and some very good foil-wrapped baked bread (the highlight of the meal)), I can’t imagine the food cost was all that much more than a dollar.

And one of the reasons I think it might be a mistake was that my four-dollar side order of chicken was bigger, containing five chunks of chicken in a tomato-based sauce.

But then how do I explain the $16.75 beef kabob which had five or six bite-sized beef nuggets, grilled on a small skewer with green pepper and onion? Other than the rice which came with it (it was in a larger container, and packed up with its own rice), this wasn’t enough food for an ant.

Between the decent bread, relatively large amounts of rice, and good yogurt-based cucumber salad, this was enough food to satisfy hunger cravings, but it sure wasn’t because of the meat. Assuming the Kachalou Chalow wasn’t a mistake (and quite frankly, even if it was, because I wouldn’t have paid $30 for this meal), Afghan Grill must surely be the most overpriced, perhaps even the most expensive, Afghan restaurant in the area.

I’m willing to give this place another try, but only on someone else’s dime.

(*) the bag, not me.

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