Lunchtime With Tillie: Black Iris

lwtblackiris-tillie Hello out there, neighborhood. It’s Van, and I just want to say this about Tillie: She sure is a saucy kind of gal!

I mean, really – ketchup, marinara, spicy mayo, you name it. Now, I can add tahini sauce to the list as I discovered when we went to Middle Eastern restaurant Black Iris on Dekalb and Clermont for our latest lunch date. And it’s a good thing the tahini sauce was there or I don’t know what she would’ve eaten!

Our day had gone like any other dad-and-daughter day: a little playground action, some block stacking, we even made it out to the library for story time.

When we got home, I put her down for a nap and around when I expected her to wake up, I started packing up a bib, towel, little spoon and some food for her to take with us. A couple of times recently, I’ve gone out without any backup food, but having never been to Black Iris, I didn’t know what to expect for myself, much less her. Tillie’s mom and I make dishes for her that we pack up and freeze into little containers, and on the menu this time was some mashed potatoes with a little ground-up hamburger patty and carrots all mixed together. She didn’t eat it the day before, but I thought I’d give it another shot.

So after her nap, we got down to Black Iris and it was a pretty tight fit going in, as they had the tiniest outer door entrances I’ve ever seen. Then when we got in, we were hit by this blast of hot air – like really, really hot. Two tough things to handle and we just walked in the place!

The restaurant had a crowd for a late afternoon, but we were able to get a seat at a table by the window. I set Tillie up in her high chair and the waiter came with a glass of water for me and a cup with a straw for her. Water is still an old Tillie fave, so I took the straw and gave her some sips. Also, she seemed to be in a cheerful mood, which was indicated by her dancing to the music pumping out of the speakers!

As I was looking at the menu, I had the notion of getting a couple of falafels for her to try. To me, it seemed like it would be right up her alley. Who doesn’t like fried ground-up chickpeas? I was torn between the chicken kebab and merguez platters, but decided to go with the merguez.

While we were waiting, I decided to try to feed Tillie the little meal I packed up. Upon opening it, I was a little taken aback by the smell of it, which, just so we’re under no illusions, was not particularly appetizing. I took a bite of it and it tasted fine to me, despite the scent, and tried to sell Tillie on it with a big smile on my face and a “Yum!” thrown in for added measure. I gave her a tiny bite and just like the day before, it came right back out. I guess we can call that dish of mine a failure!

The falafels came out soon and I took a little pinch just to make sure there wasn’t any crazy spicy seasoning going on. It was good to me, so I gave her a little piece dipped in the tahini sauce as I know she’s big on the condiments. She licked the sauce off, but didn’t try the falafel at all. And when I tried to give her the falafel again, it was no dice. Uh-oh, what do I do now? That’s two of my meal options for her already rejected, and my food hadn’t even arrived yet!

Good thing I’ve learned to be a little quick on my feet over the course of our LWT excursions. The falafels came with a little lettuce and tomato, and as she’s usually a fan of tomatoes, I gave her a piece. She ate it, but then I decided to jazz it up for her with the next piece dipped in tahini sauce. And ladies and gentlemen, we had a winner! That woke up her taste buds and she was clamoring for more.

My food arrived in the midst of the feeding frenzy: a huge plate of rice topped with the merguez and a big salad on the side. I took a bite of the sausage and it was very flavorful, with a nice spiciness to it. I was going to keep it away from Tillie, but I gave her some of the rice that was underneath it. She had a bite, but wasn’t that into it. However, when I took some rice and put it on a little plate, then mixed up some tahini sauce in it … ding, ding, ding! Another winner! Man, I was racking up the “awesome dad” points!

As she was in an eating groove, I wanted to see if I could keep the good times rolling. This time, I gave her some of my pita – dipped in tahini sauce, of course. It wasn’t as successful as the tomatoes and rice, but she still ate some of it. I was so focused on feeding her that I barely paid attention to my own meal. I finished most of it, and it was tasty, but as far as savoring every bite goes, I didn’t get to do that. No biggie at all, though: I’ve had plenty of meals in my lifetime compared to Tillie!

So after all the eating was said and done, I got the check, which was really reasonable at $13, considering I had a huge platter of food and the extra falafels at the start. I would go back there again, for sure, especially with the staff being so nice and the place so accommodating – once you made it in the tight squeeze at the door and walked past the hot kitchen area, that is! As a matter of fact, we went there to pick up a couple of falafel sandwiches the next day – and Tillie ate the falafels this time. I had to douse them in tahini sauce, but hey! Whatever works!