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Dining Out with Nadine Vanderwalker

Dining Out with Nadine Vanderwalker

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review-th2When ordinary food just won’t do, it’s time to take your taste buds on an adventure they won’t soon forget at King David’s. King David’s Restaurants are located both on the SU Hill (129 Marshall Street) and in Fayetteville (317 Towne Drive at Towne Center). They pride themselves on serving only the finest in Middle Eastern and Greek Cuisine since they were established in 1974. King David’s on the Hill is open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm. The Fayetteville location is open Monday through Thursday 11am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 10 pm and Sunday 12 pm to 7 pm.

review-th3Since its inception, King David’s concept has been to serve the finest food with nothing but the freshest ingredients all while offering a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. To give you an idea about how fresh everything is, when I spoke with owner Nader Hatem he told me he was in the garden picking the parsley for that days tabbouleh, it doesn’t get fresher or more local than that! For those that have never been, King David’s offers a variety of authentic Middle Eastern and Greek dishes. They have a huge selection of vegetarian and gluten free dishes to accommodate all dietary restrictions. There is surely something for everyone, from their famous Falafel sandwich to the House Special Shish Kabob Platter. They serve a variety of super fresh, gigantic salads including the signature Greek Chicken Salad, Gyro Salad, Fetouche and even Calamari Salad! When you stop by King David’s you have just got to try classic Middle Eastern and Greek favorites like homemade Falafel Patties, Homous, Babaganouge, Tabbouleh, Spanakopida, Grape Leaves and Gyros. If you find yourself with a large appetite you cannot go wrong with any one of the House Specials featuring the finest in marinated chicken, lamb, beef and shrimp in dishes like Shish Kabob, Kibbeh, Mousaka, Pastichio, as well as in special combination platters. No matter what you do be sure to save room for dessert and indulge and tantalize your taste buds once with a delicious variety of Baklava and delectable cup of Turkish coffee.

My friend Keri and I went to King David’s Restaurant in Fayetteville on a brilliantly sunny June evening. We were both very excited about this meal because King David’s is always a treat. We were immediately seated by the smiling hostess and greeted by our friendly server. While looking at the menu we just couldn’t make up our minds about what delicious dishes to try so we decided to start with the King David’s Super Sammler, also known as, a taste of everything, Shish Kabob, Kibbeh, Grape Leaves, Homous, Falafel patties, Babaganouge, Greek salad, and pita. You could taste the freshness in every bite. During our meal Keri said that this was the best Middle Eastern food in town, and that after living in Detroit for several years she is a pretty good judge! Although we had a ton of leftovers from our appetizer we couldn’t pass up ordering entrees.

Keri decided on the Spanakopita (A traditional cheese and spinach pie, filled withfeta cheese and spinach nestled in layers of filo dough and baked until golden) and she described it as light and flakey yet rich and delicious. I decided on the Eggplant Pita (a gigantic pita filled to the brim with lightly fried eggplant, lettuce, tomato, and tahini). The eggplant was cooked to perfection and topped with unimaginably fresh veggies! With all of this stupendous food we unfortunately did not save room for dessert but we will be sure to do so on our next visit to King David’s!

King David’s is a great place to enjoy a wonderful meal for lunch or dinner. Stop in for a casual and comfortable lunch without going over your lunch break. The lunch time line service allows patrons to escape to the Mediterranean and enjoy the tasty cuisine in a quick and casual atmosphere. Head in for dinner and allow the knowledgeable wait staff to provide full table service for dinner. You will be welcomed by a friendly host or hostess and seat you in the beautiful dining room, warm with the rich and exotic colors of the Mediterranean, and illuminated with the old world lanterns of the middle east. If you are new to this cuisine or simply have a question the friendly wait staff is eager to provide answers to all of your questions while providing excellent service in a friendly environment so you can relax and enjoy the King David’s experience. Like them on facebook, visit their website at http://www.kingdavids.com/ or better yet stop into one of their convenient locations today!

Yolanda Wright

Yolanda Wright

After wearing its golden crown for 30 years on Marshall Street on the university hill, King David’s has spread its domain to include a bright and shiny spot in Towne Center at Fayetteville. Whether the crowd at its new family-friendly digs on a recent Wednesday evening was a sign of loyalty, curiosity or craving for first-rate Middle Eastern food, tables were full in three dining areas.

Good fresh food, exceptionally attentive service, moderate prices and a cheerful atmosphere deserved high marks especially on a busy evening when the staff was still smiling. With a busy carry-out business and limited seating in the front of the restaurant, King David’s has a pleasant, carpeted main dining room with pale wood tables and chairs, upholstered booths and walls painted in a variety of bold colors. Stylish star-shapedhanging lamps and wall sconces add more color, and bare tables are topped with bottles of olive oil and red-pepper sauce, wine and beer lists and silverware rolled in paper napkins. Beyond the dining room, an enclosed courtyard provides more seating.

King David’s extensive, annotated, all-day menu starts with Greek “pitzas” ($5.95), baked on 12-inch pita breads with mozzarella, tomatoes, Greek feta, olives and spices.

Twelve additional toppings add 75 cents each.

Fifteen “mazza” ($2 to $6.50) appetizers can be combined in a traditional Middle Eastern starter for two ($12.95) with 10 of the items.

Salads ($4.50 to $6.99) and sandwiches ($4.50 to $5.50) offer vegetarian as well as ethnic chicken, beef and lamb items.

Sandwiches are also offered as platters ($7.50 to $8.50) and include tossed salad, falafel (vegetable patty), pita bread and a choice of rice, hummus (chickpea dip), babaganouge (eggplant dip) or steak fries.

Thirteen a-la-carte dishes ($6.50 to $7.50) offer individual portions of some of the dishes found in 15 house specialties ($9.50 to $14.95 and after 4 p.m.), which include Greek salad, hummus, falafel patty and pita.

We beganwith glasses of chardonnay ($3.25), skipped starters and welcomed a basket of warm pita bread and house specialties on large white platters that held entrees as well as their side dishes.

Chicken kabob ($11.95) delivered two skewers of delicious marinated and grilled chicken chunks alternated with pieces of onion and bell pepper.

Tender with bold grilled marks, the chicken, served on a bed of good rice, was full of flavor.

The small Greek salad with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese and black olives was tossed with splendid homemade Greek dressing, and a crisp, deep-fried falafel of ground chickpeas, onions and spices was a savory contrast to the mild hummus dip designed for pita.

With the same side dishes, a Greek Trio ($12.95) provided a sampler of two popular ethnic casseroles and a crisp spanakopita, or phyllo-wrapped triangle filled with spinach and feta cheese and baked.

Crunchy on the outside and smooth inside, the pie was delicious.

A square of baked mousaka layered with seasoned ground beef, sliced potatoes and eggplant was topped with a thick layer of bechamel sauce.

Potato chunks seemed to dominate the casserole, and my personal preference is to limit layers to eggplant and seasoned meat, but the flavor was fine.

Another square, pastichio or Greek lasagna, layered macaroni with seasoned ground beef, cheese and tomato, which came together easily beneath a thick coating of bechamel sauce. The whole sampler provided a nice variety of tastes and textures. Other house specialtiesinclude a vegetarian dinner, including dessert, for two ($16.95), kabob combo with lamb and chicken ($11.95), barbecue platter or Greek platter ($9.50) and individual portions of pastichio, mousaka and spanakopita ($9.50).

Children younger than 10 have four choices ($3.95 each) with fries or salad.

Assorted baklava pastries ($2 for two pieces) are King David’s only desserts, but choosing shapes (rolls, bird’s nests, squares) is part of the fun, and the other part comes with a choice of nuts or flavors.

Our waitress called each “a bite and half,” and what lovely bites they were with pistachios. The crisp golden phyllo pastries were terrific tiny tastes at the end of a happy visit. King David’s was filled with diners of all ages, from toddlers to teens to their grandparents. And everyone seemed to be enjoying the evening. Fresh-tasting food and a large, experienced staff made it easy to look forward to the next visit.

Jennifer Kumar | Vegetarian Review

Jennifer Kumar | Vegetarian Review

King David’s Restaurant, RIT Park Point, Rochester, NY

Meet and Greet King David's Restaurant
We entered just a few minutes after opening and were greeted by the
hostess/waitress. We were told that wait staff sit and serve guests only after 4pm, before 4pm, guests can sit themselves after ordering at the counter. After ordering at the counter, the waitress will bring your dishes to you.

Mise en Scène
The interior is wide open, with tall ceilings. Guests can choose from tables in the center of the seating area or wide, comfy booths along the perimeter. Because this restaurant has a corner location, there are plenty of windows where light can enter. This is good as the lighting inside seems to be dimmed during the day. Lighting fixtures and other ambient décor is tasteful and ethnic looking. When it is quiet inside, one can listen to the beautiful Middle Eastern music ambient music.

I did use the restroom, which was spacious, squeaky clean, well stocked and nicely decorated.

Choosing a Veggie Treat

There was no problem in choosing a veggie dish as there King David's Restaurantwere a plethora of choices:

* 9 varieties of Greek Pitzas (Greek Cheese, Pesto, Roasted Red Pepper, Sun Dried Tomato, Artichoke, Vegetarian, Mushroom, Eggplant, Spinach)
* Appetizers (Falafel, Babaganouge, Feta Cheese & Olives, Grape Leaves, Dolmodaes, Tabbouleh Spanakopita, Asparagus Fries, Eggplant Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Tzatziki, Rice)
* Salads (House, Greek, Tabbouleh, Fetouche)
* A La Carte (Homous, Babaganouge, Grape Leaves, Spanakopita, Vegetarian Plate, Vegetarian Dinner for 2)
* Pocket Sandwiches (Falafel, Eggplant Pita)
* Pitas (Veggie Pita Wrap)
* Kids (Many of the above items are available in the Kid’s menu, all Middle Eastern, no American foods on Kid’s Menu, minus chicken tenders)

You could say King David’s is a vegetarian’s paradise! The only concern I had coming here on a dreary day was would I be interested in eating most of these items today being cold/chilled items. I had hoped to get something hot to warm up.

We decided on the vegetarian dinner for two (Spanakopita, four falafel patties, plate of homous, plate of babaganouge, plate of tabboulah, dolmades, pita and two baklava for dessert at $18.95) and the eggplant fries. This was a massive amount of food as you can see in the photos. I would suggest this could be a lunch/dinner for three or four depending on your appetites. As this restaurant is loosely connected to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) campus, students could buy this for one or two and take a ‘doggie bag’ home and eat throughout the day and possibly even through two days!

Comments on the food. Eggplant fries were very tasty. Krishna, who tries to avoid eggplant, even in saying the word “eggplant,” ate these willingly and enjoyed them by dipping them in the homous. Our waitress did provide ketchup, but it tasted better dipping it this way. All other items were very tasty, and actually though I was worried I’d feel cold after eating all these cold dishes, that did not happen. I think that happened partially because of the shot of Turkish coffee I bought and downed in one big gulp. I had expected this coffee to be quite strong (in taste and caffeine content) and bitter compared to the Turkish coffee I have had in the past, but it was not so. Not even sure it was that full of caffeine, as I felt tired after the meal! The only part of the meal that could have been improved was the spanakopita as the phylo dough seemed chewy to both of us, and not crispy and light as we have tasted in other places.

turkish coffeeChecking In
Initially, this was not an issue as we were the only ones in the establishment. However, by about 11:45 when more patrons swarmed in, our waitress, who doubled as the host/cashier was inundated, which affected the attention she could give to those of us sitting in the dining area. Unfortunately, beside her it appeared no one else working there was in the role of waitressing/checking on guests. This could be improved for the future. It could be possible the management continues to monitor the help required as they recently opened in August.

See you later
Since we paid at the counter before getting the food, waiting for the bill was no problem. However, I had not understood at time of payment our waitress would be serving us. I thought we would have to come back to the counter to collect food, so initially I left too small a tip. After sitting down and then being served our meal, I realized the set up and left a few extra dollars on the table upon heading out.
Pay Scale
$11-15 per person
Tips
10% was sufficient
Star System 4/5

Tricia Seymour | City Newspaper

Tricia Seymour | City Newspaper

CHOW HOUND: New restaurants at Park Point

Park Point, recently built at the crossroads of Jefferson Road and John Street, is not only a welcome addition to the RIT campus; it also bolsters Henrietta’s reputation as a suburban food mecca. While much of Henrietta focuses on chains, the establishments at Park Point are refreshingly not big box restaurants. Better yet, there’s enough variety with six venues to satisfy any student’s – or townie’s – hunger.

wrapKing David’s

This Syracuse-based restaurant has ventured into Rochester, bringing in another option for Middle Eastern fare. Nader Hatem, the restaurant’s second-generation owner, believes the King David’s concept works best with diverse communities, making a college campus a perfect setting. This new space is aglow with rich colors and vibrant light fixtures to give it an appropriate Old World feel.

We started with dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice) and found them to be appropriately moist. However, the asparagus fries won the appetizer round; pencil thin stalks coated in a light batter. The thick and delicious plum wasabi sauce served with the “fries” stole the show with its clingy quality and unique taste. The chawarma platter, billed as “a nomad’s delicacy,” was chock full of food, although the sides reigned supreme. The baba ganoush had an enjoyable dusky hue and flavor, while the falafel delighted with its spicy filling and crispy crust. The side salad also impressed, with crisp lettuce and a flavorful tzatziki sauce. The pita, while pleasing and loaded with sirloin, was so large it was difficult to pick up and eat. We also found the gyro to have the same enormous proportions, making it nearly impossible to go hungry hereplatters.

The perfect-to-share platters are a notable difference from other local restaurants. The King David’s Super Sampler is a great way to try several house specialties; the vegetarian platter is full of meatless delights; and there is also Mazza for Two, an array of appetizers so plentiful, you could skip right to dessert.

King David’s is open Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sundays noon-7 p.m. For more information call 424-7482 or visit kingdavids.com.

Karen Miltner | Democrat and Chronicle

Karen Miltner | Democrat and Chronicle

Cheap Eats: King David’s
New eatery near RIT serves Mediterranean, Middle Eastern dishes in Pier One-esque setting

Karen Miltner
Democrat and Chronicle
November 4, 2008
Middle Eastern Lighting

Anyone who has served time at Syracuse University will likely recall King David’s, a Marshall Street institution that has been serving good, cheap Middle Eastern grub since the mid-1970s. As suburban high schoolers looking to mimic college-student cool, friends and I would go to the hole in the wall and get buzzed on the thick, syruplike coffee and sweet baklava.

When I was back on the SU hill as a grad student, King David’s saved me countless times from dismal food-court fare. Now Rochester Institute of Technology students and faculty members (and yes, the general public) have their chance to dine in the kingdom. Nader Hatem, whose father, Milad, runs the original King David’s, has moved into the Rochester market.

And just as our Starbucks generation wants to drink its lattes while lounging in contemporary upholstery surrounded by Pier One-esque accessories, this new King David’s has polished its crown with tasteful bling such as hanging star lamps and sequined wall tapestries, stylish booths and bottles of imported olive oil that you wouldn’t mind having in your own kitchen arsenal. This is a seismic makeover from what I remember and fits well in the new, sprawling Park Point development along Jefferson Road near Rochester Institute of Technology.

The menu covers a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern territory, from Greek spanikopita and stuffed grape leaves to pita pizzas to shawarma. But a lot of the decision-making you’ll face (either at the counter or at your table once full table service kicks in at 4 p.m.) will be about what combinations you want to eat. Tabbouleh straight up, over lettuce, or with hummus? A few sampler platters spare you the burden of choice and presumably swamp you with food.

My lunch ended up as kibbeh in a pita (kibbeh is kind of like a hamburger or meatloaf with pine nuts, spices and bulgur), with Greek salad, a small falafel, some baba ghanoush and extra pita to eat the kibbeh. Look for it under the pocket sandwiches category, platter version. I also couldn’t resist the hazelnut baklava drizzled with chocolate (other baklavas and cakes also available), a flavor combo that probably didn’t exist way back in King David’s early days.

Now that’s progress.
King David’s Restaurant
Address: 200 Park Point Drive, Henrietta
Phone: (585) 424-7482
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Accessibility: Fully wheelchair accessible.
Good to know: Line service (order at counter, food is brought to table) during the day, switching to table service at 4 p.m. Wine and beer available. Live belly dancing performance on Thursdays starting at 7 p.m. Patio seating in nice weather.

Cheap Eats picks
What I ate: Kibbeh platter with salad, falafel, baba ghanoush for $9.50; chocolate-hazelnut baklava for $2.
Other good deals: Pita sandwiches are $6 and less. Greek pizzas less than $7.
Not so cheap: House specialties (come with salad, hummus, falafel, pita) in the $10 to $13 range. A super sampler dinner is $15.95

Karen Deyle | Metromix

Karen Deyle | Metromix

Review: King David’s
Venue near RIT taps college crowd and fans of Middle Eastern cuisine

Karen Deyle
Special to Metromix
January 7, 2009

King Davids near RIT in Rochester, NYOh, the holiday hangovers. The entire season is fraught with reasons to indulge, and when January rolls around we resolve, if not to diet, to eat healthier.

At King David’s in the new Park Point complex on Rochester Institute of Technology’s campus, you can choose from a varied Middle Eastern/Greek menu that includes vegetarian options, salads, grains and grilled meats. Owner Nader Hatem is enthusiastic about the company’s new location in Rochester. The near-campus formula has been successful for the family since his parents opened the original location near Syracuse University in 1974.

The food
The menu is casual Middle Eastern with some distinctively Greek dishes. The food is flavored with coriander, cumin, allspice, oregano and sumac. The hummus and falafel are made from scratch, from dried, not canned chick peas.

We began with an order of baba ghanoush ($4.85), a creamy dip made from charcoal grilled eggplant blended with lemon, garlic and salt for a tangy, smoky flavor. Garnished with slices of pickle, a pepperoncini and a crisp fried falafel patty (spiced bulghur wheat), the dip is served with a side of pita bread.

With so many choices, my friend and I decided to order combination platters to maximize the sampling. The first was the Mediterranean platter with beef chawarma, grape leaves and tabbouleh for $11.95. The chawarma featured thinly sliced beef and onions, simmered and spiced with a mix of seasonings that are warm but not overwhelmingly spicy. The grape leaves were not the usual plain rice filling found on olive bars and many Greek places. Instead, these were longer, thinner rolls, with fragrantly seasoned meat and pine nuts in addition to the rice. Tabbouleh is a blend of tomatoes, bulghur wheat, parsley, garlic and lemon, and recipes vary from place to place. This variety is more of a salad whose major ingredient is parsley, a refreshing light accompaniment to the spicy meat.

The Greek trio ($12.95) allowed us to sample portions of moussaka, pastichio and spanakopita. The first two items are similar presentations: baked casseroles topped with a layer of creamy baked béchamel sauce. The mousaka has an underlying layer of seasoned ground beef, eggplant and potatoes, while the pastichio is more lasagnalike with spiced ground beef, cheese, tomato and penne macaroni. Both have a bit of cinnamon in the seasoning, giving it a warm spiciness that is distinctly Greek. The spanakopita is a flaky triangle of phyllo, stuffed with a mix of spinach, feta cheese, a hint of lemon. The light golden crust broke open to reveal a steaming interior. The filling had a bright fresh flavor from fresh, not frozen spinach. All platters are accompanied by a portion of Greek salad, a portion of hummus, a falafel patty and another round of pita.

The portions were more than generous, and we were both able to take away a box sufficient for a light lunch the next day.

If you are still tapering off from holiday sweets, you can enjoy a small indulgence with your turbo caffeinated Turkish coffee. Tiny baklava treats in a variety of shapes and fillings (walnut or pistachio) are available. We ordered two ($2) to share, and satisfied our remaining sweet tooth craving with just two bites.

The drinks
A small wine list includes moderate offerings with student-friendly prices. Several types of beer are available. For a refreshing fruit drink, try the mango, papaya or apricot nectars. Caffeine lovers can enjoy dark, intense Turkish coffee.

The atmosphere
The large open dining area leaves plenty of room at spacious tables and comfortable upholstered booths. The walls reflect the colors of a Middle Eastern bazaar. Hanging lighting features a combination of punched metal lamps and multi-pointed stained-glass stars. Tapestries of silk and mirrored sequins accent the walls, and the large windows sparkle with beaded curtains.

The service
At lunch, meals are ordered at the counter. Dinner offers full table service.

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