Side Dish

Pyramid to Desert Its Old Digs

The Pyramid (12657 Lorain Avenue, 216-671-9300), that West Side monument to Middle Eastern cookery, is planning to move to larger quarters in early April. Abu Rami, chef and part owner, says the new digs, located less than two blocks east, on the corner of Lorain and West 125th Street, will more than double the restaurant's seating capacity and add additional, sorely needed kitchen space. The move will also mark the introduction of an updated menu, with five new vegetarian entrées and several steak and seafood dishes, rounding out the list of old favorites like broiled lamb chops, shish kabobs, shawarma, kibbee, and a creamy, rosewater-scented rice pudding that can't be beat. Rami hasn't raised his ridiculously low prices since the restaurant opened in 1992, but with the new menu, he acknowledges that guests may see a modest increase. Still, with a platter of hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, tabouli, and spinach pie (the Vegetarian Plate) currently ringing up at $6.95, even a not-so-modest increase would work out to be a bargain. Besides its deliciously authentic Lebanese, Egyptian, and Syrian fare, the Pyramid is also well-known for its brightly painted exterior -- featuring a panorama of the Egyptian desert, complete with the Sphinx -- and its interior mural of a Bedouin family preparing for dinner. In keeping with tradition, artists are now toiling over a large interior mural for the new location. Rami estimates the move may interrupt the flow of hummus for a week or so at the end of March, until everything is up and running at the new Pyramid, so give a call before you head over. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. The old location will reopen shortly thereafter as The Pyramid Coffee House, under the supervision of some of Rami's kin.

West Side Mid-East update II . . . The bright and welcoming Kabob House (11901 Lorain Avenue, 216-252-8448) opened its doors in December, adding to the street's already solid reputation as an ethnic "restaurant row." The large menu of homemade Middle Eastern and American foods includes everything from savory, tender lamb kabobs to a six-ounce strip steak with fried jumbo shrimp. Diners can expect to score a filling and flavorful meal here, including soup or salad and hummus or baba ghanoush, for less than $10. (Go with the hummus: It's the smooth, buttery kind with the dreamy texture of whipped heavy cream.) The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday, to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Ali-Baba's return . . . It has been a tough winter for Ali-Baba's chef-owner Linda Kihm, with a series of family illnesses and inconveniences conspiring to cut the restaurant's hours to a minimum. Right now, the tiny Middle Eastern spot -- tucked between the Pyramid and the Kabob House, at 12021 Lorain Avenue -- is open only Friday and Saturday evenings, from around 5 to 8:30, although Kihm says she will serve parties of 15 or more, with prior arrangements, anytime. As Kihm's life returns to normal, look for the restaurant to expand its hours of operation. Kihm can be reached at 216-251-2040.

Tips are encouraged. Contact Elaine T. Cicora at [email protected].