Table Talk: Northwest Columbus' Syrian Kitchen opens for carryout

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Muhammad Khalifa has opened Syrian Kitchen at 2630 Billingsley Road in northwest Columbus.

After eight years of training in kitchens, Muhammad Khalifa was pretty sure he was ready to open a restaurant.

With a nudge from friends, who helped decorate a small space with an assortment of potted plants, Khalifa opened Syrian Kitchen at 2630 Billingsley Road in northwest Columbus.

Among a cluster of buildings with retail uses – and with virtually no visibility from the road – Syrian Kitchen is a carryout-only restaurant specializing in the cuisine of the Middle Eastern country.

“It’s not hard for people” to find if they know what they’re looking for, Khalifa said.

Certainly, the food will look familiar to many people who have tried cuisine from the region: various kebab platters, wrap sandwiches, soups, stuffed grape leaves, cold spreads including tabbouleh, baba ghanoush and msabbaha (a style of hummus) – all with distinct Syrian seasonings and preparations. 

One of the house specialties is the mandi, a multicolor rice dish served with bone-in chicken thighs.

There are even two burgers – chicken and beef.

Most individual prices are $5 to $15.

Khalifa is following the recipes of his mother, Asmaa Khalifa. His sister, Nour, also helps at Syrian Kitchen.

After the conflict in their native country, the family moved to Egypt, where Khalifa began his culinary journey, washing dishes and then moving up to the line. The family came to the United States four years ago, and Khalifa worked for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants.

Yet his desire was to own his own place. And it will do for now, until he finds a storefront that will allow seating and table service.

“Maybe after coronavirus,” he said.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, call 614-432-1902.

New look for Old Bag

Old Bag of Nails Pub near Bexley will close Jan. 4 for a monthlong remodeling.

Mike Purdum, who owns the locally based chain of casual pubs, said he will spend $135,000 on new booths, tile, brick, kitchen equipment and a bar top.

Purdum opened the east Columbus location, at 18 N. Nelson Road, 22 years ago. Twelve years ago, it was severely damaged by a fire.

A free-standing building to the south, which Purdum also owns, will be integrated into the space and used for private events for up to 100 people.

Make way for XinWei

Bahn Thai has been replaced by XinWei Kitchen at 1932 W. Henderson Road.

The restaurant has the usual fare – egg rolls, wonton soup, beef chow fun and sesame chicken – but also some more unusual dishes, including salt-and-pepper prawns, poached fish filet with chili sauce, red curry chicken and shredded pork with Beijing sauce.

Most dinner entrees are $11 to $16. Lunches start at $7.95.

Cajun cuisine

Central Ohio’s second Cajun Boil Bar is expected to open in February at 1748 E. Dublin-Granville Road.

It has fare typical of Louisiana-style seafood boils: crawfish, shrimp, crab, lobster and such, along with potatoes, corn and other additions. The food is tossed and served in a bag of spices, suitable to the customer’s preferred level of heat.

The Northland store is a follow-up to the Cajun Boil Bar, 2760 Brice Road, managing partner Freddy Zhao said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary