Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, August 1, 2002
The Pegasus
Mezze plate $6 per person
Phyllo pastry cigars $8
Persian spiced lamb osso buco $19
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Hot Wings

The Pegasus soars aroundthe world to createfantastic cuisine.

By NANCY SCHAADT

The Pegasus

2443 Forest Park Blvd, FW. 817-922-0808. Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, 5:30-10pm. Sat 5:30pm-midnight. Sun 11am-2pm, 5:30pm-midnight. AE, D, DC, MC, V, no personal checks.

I’ve had irrational urges for Middle Eastern food. Well, maybe not so irrational. When you write about food for a living, everything makes you hungry. Sheep grazing in a field make me crave mutton, and news reports from Afghanistan make me hungry for hummus and baba ghanoush. The Pegasus scratched all these itches with food that bows to the Middle East, Asia, and Spain.

The Pegasus puts a spicy spin on world cuisine, and the results are dazzling — a dash of cumin in hummus, tabbouleh made with quinoa (a flavorful South American grain), and lamb osso buco studded with preserved lemons and sprinkled with sumac.

The menu is loaded with tapas, mezze, and entrées (some available in half portions). Tapas, a Spanish word meaning “small plates,” are appetizer-sized mini -meals that are traditionally eaten at a bar with libations. Mezze (or meze) is Greek for “appetizer,” even though the one mezze dish we sampled at Pegasus was solidly Middle Eastern. It had baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, and hummus with green and black olives, generous squares of smooth feta cheese, slices of white onion, and wedges of tomato.

The baba ghanoush was a rich mash of eggplant plus the sweeter, livelier flavor of sumac. The tabbouleh was so wealthy with flavor it could turn the most meat-and-potatoes stalwart into a world-food fan. Pegasus chefs toast quinoa and toss it with lemon, parsley, tomatoes, and spices for a tight, fresh flavor. Tabbouleh is typically made from bulgur wheat, which is a starchy, heavy grain. The protein molecules of quinoa are arranged in a more flattering, less earthy manner for an overall flavor that is nutty but not Grape-Nuts-cereal nutty or excessively starchy. And the hummus — pureed garbanzo beans and tahini with olive oil and garlic turned into a dip — was jazzed with cumin, which revealed a dash of chili (as in “bowl of red”) flavor.

The phyllo cigars were assembled with bite-sized portions of the fillings lined up like the chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry sections of Neapolitan ice cream squares. Rather than being a mishmash of flavors, the pastry fingers — one is about the size of a good $10 cigar — offer diners distinct half-inch morsels of quail, shrimp, olive, chorizo, or Manchego cheese (apropos to the Don Quixote statues that decorate the restaurant, the cheese is traditionally made from the milk of the Manchego sheep that graze on the plains of La Mancha). The steamed mussels were also a hit. A baker’s dozen of delicate, inch-long mussels swam in a spicy broth flavored with chiles and lemongrass. They had an intense heat that dissipated quickly on the tongue.

The house-cured lox appetizer was perfectly cured and beautifully presented, but, like the final runner-up in a Miss America pageant, it was lovely but largely superfluous.

As good as the tapas and mezze are, it is for Page Two of the menu — the entrées — that the husband-and-wife team of Majid and Denise Paul Shavandy will be remembered. Majid runs the front of the house while his wife runs the kitchen. Without cooperation between the business and culinary sides of the restaurant, it would have been impossible to stack the menu with half and whole entrée selections. Half entrées require as much prep and cooking time as full entrées, so the restaurant must be committed to the concept and ready to commit the same amount of resources to a less financially rewarding menu item.

Half entrées are good for consumers in these uneasy economic times. The menu of tapas and half entrees make adventurous eating as easy as a trip through the drive-through. “The half entrées are so people don’t have to eat one large meal,” Majid said. “A price-conscious person can put together a meal of two or three things for $10 to $12.”

If the lamb osso buco is any indication of what the kitchen can do, the chefs could probably make twigs and grass taste like wild mushroom consommé. For lamb osso buco, lamb shanks are braised with tomato and onion, then spiced and slow-cooked. Usually the dish is finished with gremolata, but Pegasus’ cooks used preserved lemons — this adds to the tart flavor that is then further enhanced by the paprika-like muskiness of sumac.

Further enhancing the overall dining experience is the knowledgeable waitstaff and calm, clean dining room. The zigzag-shaped space has been painted a soothing taupe, and it’s decorated with local art and those statues of Don Q. Windows at the back offer a panoramic view of a manicured lawn that brings to mind words like “verdant” and “lush.”

A few years ago, the Shavandys closed the first restaurant they owned outright, a popular and eclectic eatery called Crazy Horse Café in Waxahachie, and used the money to finance Pegasus. But if the Shavandys could make fine-dining magic in the chicken-fried-steak wasteland of Waxahachie, it’s really not a shock that world cuisine could be flying on the wings of Pegasus on Forest Park.



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