7atootah: A tale worth telling

(Photo: From 7atootah Facebook page)
AMMAN — If you are in the mood for wholesome, traditional Levantine comfort food, or if you slept in and are too late for breakfast but are too early for lunch, 7atootah in Swefieh Village mall is the place to go. While the nightlife in Amman is busy and café culture has a firm footing, daytime eateries are less in the spotlight. اضافة اعلان

This busy little restaurant tucked away in a ground level space inside a relatively new mall in Abdoun, will bring back memories of grandma’s home cooking. Apart from being ideal for a late brunch, it is open morning, noon, and evening.

A bunch of my friends and I were in the mood for some good Levantine food that doesn’t tax the budget or the digestive system too heavily. They unanimously recommended 7atootah. I was intrigued by the name, which means story or tale in Arabic. As a storyteller, I wondered what kind of tale I would tell after my visit. 

The place was packed Friday morning. Arriving without a reservation, we couldn’t get a table on the terrace, but the staff quickly and efficiently arranged for an indoor table. The food didn’t disappoint, simple weekend breakfast spreads that you would find in any Levantine house, served meze style. We ordered dishes that were familiar.

 labneh jerashiyeh (Photo: Hani Bathich)

The labneh jerashiyeh, balls of firm goat cottage cheese with mint, and another with chili, a breakfast mainstay in any Levantine house, had just the right amount of tang, with a strong pleasant aftertaste typical of goat cheeses. The chili wasn’t overpowering, and the mint was refreshing.

The homemade makdous, pickled baby eggplants stuffed with walnut and pimento in olive oil,  was delicious and reminiscent of homemade makdous from the mountains of Lebanon. You can always judge the quality of a Levantine eatery by the quality of its olives, and 7atootah’s were perfect, both green and black.

The Halloumi cheese baked in clay pot was perfectly charred and flavorful. It is a Levantine favorite, although at home we used to fry the salty cheese slices. Admittedly, 7atootah’s were just as good, if not better.

Hot Armenian sausages, known as sujuk (Photo: Hani Bathich)

The spiced, hot Armenian sausages, known as sujuk, are prepared, like most dishes at 7atootah, in a clay pot, cooked with either pomegranate molasses or carob molasses, and arrive bubbling hot to the table. We ordered the carob sujuk upon the advice of the house. It was a perfect mélange of spicy and sweet, the sweet subduing the heat and cutting through the fat from the sausage roundels, all perfectly cooked with a citrusy tang. 

Eggs cooked the traditional way in a clay pot come sizzling hot to the table with a crispy caramelized crust, perfectly cooked and flavorful. The house Shakshuka, a traditional Palestinian dish, was different, more a scrambled egg with tomatoes and peppers. I personally didn’t like it very much.

The kafta bil tahina, ground spiced lamb’s meat cooked in a clay pot with potato and sesame paste, on the other hand was absolutely delectable and brought back memories of my own Palestinian grandmother’s kafta with tahina, beautifully spiced meat cooked in citrusy and thick tahina. Calorie rich but unmissable.

Batata harra (Photo: Hani Bathich)

Batata harra, one-centimeter uniform cubes of potatoes fried with chili and spices was just as delicious, crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. We ordered a selection of manakeesh, a traditional Levantine flatbread, some with zaatar, some with cheese. The thin dough and generous filling was reminiscent of traditional Lebanese manakeesh, warm and comforting. 

We doused the meal with lashings of green tea and while the scenery indoors left a lot to be desired, the company and the food made it a perfect experience, the meal lubricating conversation. Time flew and we soon realized three hours on it was time to walk the meal off. 

At an average of JD12 per person, 7atootah is certainly value for money.
A note, though, if you are heading to 7atootah using a location app, there are two locations with the same name close to each other. Select 7atootah in Sweifieh Village, the other location was the eatery’s old address and is closed now. We learned that the hard way.

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