DINING OUT — FIRST FOR FALAFEL

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Easily overlooked as a dining destination, lower Brownsboro Road is dotted mainly with fast-food restaurants and gas stations. But among them, in a short row of house-shaped storefronts, sits a fabulous new find, SHIRAZ MEDITERRANEAN GRILL (2018 Brownsboro Road, 891-8854). This Middle Eastern eatery’s space is small, which could become a problem if its popularity grows — and judging by the taste of things, that’s a very real possibility.

If you feel more comfortable drinking Shiraz than eating food native to the ancient Persian city of that name, the gentlemen behind the counter will happily steer you through the menu and offer samplings of anything that interests you. The tabbouleh ($2.50), a medley of bulgur-wheat, parsley, onions, tomato, olive oil and just a hint of lemon juice, is served as a cold salad and tastes so fresh you’ll swear the ingredients were just plucked from a garden.

The quinoa ($2.50), light, airy and also served chilled, is a mixture of South American quinoa grains; red, yellow and green sweet peppers; and a touch of citrus. The mild flavors bl/files/storyimages/to create a dish that is very natural and refreshing. Quinoa was enjoyed by the Incas, who called it "the mother grain," and carb-watchers need not fear: These have fewer carbohydrates and more protein than any other grain.

Entree choices consist of a variety of kebabs with meats and veggies, but the real winner is the falafel ($3). These deep-fried chickpea rounds are often over-breaded, over-spiced or over-fried. The Shiraz falafel is the closest to perfection I’ve had in Louisville (in fact, one of the owners claimed we’d have to go to Jerusalem to find any as good!), and are accented with a light cucumber yogurt sauce known as tzatziki that sets off the falafel flavor without smothering it. All of the kebabs (and the falafel) are served with flatbread (lavash) baked at Baban Breads, a bakery in the back of the restaurant. You can also take home four different types of handmade Persian breads that are packaged and sold for $2 apiece.

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