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Hayes & Kebab

April 16, 2007

Hayes & Kebab is a relatively recent addition to the restaurant scene in Hayes Valley. Of course, it offers Middle Eastern fare — a more or less standard collection of items: mainly gyros, kebabs, and a handful of sides such as hummus, tabouleh, and baba ghanoush. They also offer full entree plates (featuring a kebab and a side dish), as well as some specials, posted on the board right outside the front door.

In terms of the menu, this is a fairly standard gyro and kebab joint. However, in terms of the decor, it is definitely not standard. Hayes & Kebab is located right on the edge of the increasingly fashionable corner of Hayes and Gough, and it looks like the owners have decided that such a chic address required chic decor. Okay, maybe the decor isn’t exactly chic, but compared to your standard kebab joint, it’s quite an upgrade. Decorations are draped around the room, along with several framed pictures; there is some nice wooden furniture, and the seating area is actually a pleasant place to linger. Prices here are somewhat higher than expected (it’s part of the “Hayes Valley experience,” right?), but it is still a more inexpensive alternative to the upscale joints in this area, such as Absinthe and Jardiniere.

Anyway, the room here is nice, but the main question here is: did the food deliver? We ordered an adana kebab wrap:

tb_hayes_kebab_adana_kebab.jpg

One quick glance at this photo tells you that not only has Hayes & Kebab has upgraded the restaurant decor, but it has also upgraded the plating. To be honest, we find it borderline ridiculous that we are even using the word “plating” in the context of a kebab joint, but there’s a first for everything. Although it sports a foil wrap, our adana kebab sandwich had been sliced on a bias and arranged attractively; the plate had even been sprinkled with parsley. Usually, doing a review for a burrito or gyro type place requires that we cut the wrap in half first before taking a picture, but in this case, Hayes & Kebab did the work for us.

Having said that, we would have preferred more attention be spent on the cooking, and less on the plating. The wrap was acceptable, but not great. The vegetables were crisp and fresh; however, the spicing of the meat needed a considerable extra dose of strength and pizzazz. The wrap was also somewhat dry, and the tahini sauce used on the wrap tasted watered down, so that the sandwich lacked a really nice flavor depth. The sandwich should also have been served with warmer bread. We did not get an opportunity to try the hummus, but from what we could tell by glancing at neighboring plates, it looked to be pretty good. Obviously, we cannot vouch for taste, but the hummus looked to have a somewhat dense consistency, and it was properly garnished with olive oil, sprinked parsley, and paprika.

One note is that the service at Hayes & Kebab, while friendly, is definitely on the slow side. It took 17 minutes for our wrap to be delivered to the table (yes, we timed it), which is pretty slow for a kebab joint, especially considering that the restaurant was not that full, and the only item we ordered was a wrap.

All in all, the food here, based on our one sampling, seems to be okay, but not noteworthy. We certainly wouldn’t make a special trek here — since the dressed-up Hayes Valley decor doesn’t really do much for us, personally — but we might stop in again for a bite before a concert, especially since this increasingly upscale neighborhood does not really have a plethora of “cheap eats.”

RATING:

COST:

406 Hayes Street (between Gough St. and Octavia St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.861.2977
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm; Fri-Sat, 11:00 am – 11:00 pm.

Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley/Civic Center

How to get there: Muni lines 5, 6, 7, 21, 47, 49, 71, F, J, K, L, M, N, and T. Closest underground stations are the Muni Van Ness station (4 blocks away) and BART/Muni Civic Center station (5-6 blocks away).

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4 comments

  1. lordy, it’s been way to long since i had good M.E. food…


  2. Haha! Well, at least they “tried” with the plating! And we should give them 1/4 a star for effort!


  3. Hehe, perhaps so. I wonder if 2.25 stars could be made clear in a picture 😉


  4. I really like this place – go back and try the hummus, babaganoush… that’s how a real med joint is judged – how good their hummus is… we had the lamb/beef gyro wrap and it was really good / suggest adding spicy sauce though…



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