To the discerning palate, the Kadu Buranee at Nora on Greenville will seem strikingly similar to that at another restaurant serving the same cuisine – North Dallas’s Afghan Grill. The Mantoo will have the same characteristic, as will the Panir salad and the kebabs.
But the experience is an entirely different story – and so are the cocktails.
Nora, the sister restaurant of Matt and Rosalind Pikar’s Afghan Grill, is a modern, hip reflection of its counterpart in the ‘burbs. Located on the corner of Greenville and Oram, Nora is the younger, trendier sibling restaurant, shedding its more traditional Afghan decor and ambiance for a sharper, streamlined decor nearer to the heart of Dallas. Along with the new look came a full bar with a specialty cocktail list and a menu designed for multiple tastings.
“It was a time for us to introduce the Afghani food to different people – to the younger people down here,” says Matt. “The food is the same as The Afghan Grill – we use the same spices and everything. The only thing we changed is the size of some dishes so people could try more things; a small-plates approach.”
The small-plates idea was one the Pikars considered to be appropriate given the circumstances – Afghan food is certainly not the well known cuisine that, say Chinese or Tex-Mex may be, and while the younger crowd on Greenville may have more adventuresome palates, an unfamiliarity with the cuisine as a whole may leave them contemplating the value of a sixteen-dollar Mantoo. Thus, the $6 small-plate version gives them an opportunity to try the steamed meat dumplings without the full-entree investment.
“With the Afhan Grill, everybody knows what it is – it’s Afghan food, of course – but with Nora, there’s been a lot of people that come and just go ‘what kind of food do you have?’ They’re curious. The small plates help to introduce them to the cuisine. And then, similar to the Afghan Grill, a lot of people are surprised by how much they like it. We’ve been here a month, and we already have people in the neighborhood who have come to us three or four times going, ‘I didn’t even know what it was a few weeks ago and now I’m craving it!’” says Rosalind with a laugh. “People seem to be really happy that there’s something within walking distance that’s a little different then what’s been here for the last couple of years.”
Adds Matt, “Yeah, they’re very surprised – they’ve never had this food before. Maybe they’ve heard of Afghan Grill, but never got to take the time to go the 25 miles to North Dallas.”
For those who have seen both, Nora might seem a far cry from Afghan Grill; its sleek design and modern look are complemented by a bar that runs half the length of the restaurant. Cocktails such as the Nora’s Mojito and the Cardamom Spice give the drinks a character reflective of the food they serve, while a wine list and a beer list with the standards – and a few surprises – round out the drink menu.
“We made this more modern; it’s definitely not too much the traditional, But we still have the touch of Afghani – the wood and the carpet, for instance,” says Matt.
It’s a different take on Afghan food than they’ve taken before, but Matt and Rosalind Pikar have taken it upon themselves to introduce their specialty to an area of Dallas known for its restaurants, bars, diners and drinkers alike. Between the food and the drinks, it’s a unique experience to Lower Greenville – and, for that matter, Dallas as a whole.
Even the Far North part of it.