The Helmand: Baltimore, MD, USA
The Helmand is supposedly one of the best restaurants in Baltimore, particularly for Afghan food. Also, it is supposedly owned and ran by the brother of the president of Afghanistan. I had received amazing reviews by multiple friends, about fifteen of them or more, and so I was looking forward to trying the food there. Maybe it was an off-night, but I was really put off by the service, and the food was not the greatest. While some may say that my review is biased based on the poor service, I didn’t even realize how poor the service was until the end of the night. I have yet to find an incident where my tastebuds have failed me as well. Anyways, the things I tried were:
- Kaddo Borwani (baked baby pumpkin with yoghurt sauce)
- Lamb Lawand (lamb in spices, served with spinach and challow)
- probably the best dish that I had that night
- sweet and savory with sour from the yoghurt cream sauce
- great combination of flavors
- I don’t know if this was anything super special? I have a tendency to deconstruct dishes in my head if it’s something that I really like, and I honestly feel like I probably could have done a similar sauce. It tasted like a garlic greek yoghurt sauce. In fact, I may still try it one day at home just to see if I can recreate something similar.
- lamb was cooked really well, not chewy or overcooked
- challow (rice mixed with oils and herbs then baked) was really well flavored. I finished all of this
- not impressed. period.
- truthfully, and my classmate’s friend L-lee also agreed: it tasted like really bland Indian food. There wasn’t much flavor and truthfully, it tasted like a lamb stew that my mom would make because she doesn’t add salt to anything anymore for fear of hypertension except…with Indian spices. And not enough spice at that.
- not worth the price. For the amount and how much the dish was (and this was a “special”), I could get a better meal in NYC.
This was perhaps the worst part. The service was abysmal. It took about 15 minutes to get our order. To be fair, the server wanted it after about 3-5 minutes of seating us, and we didn’t have enough time at that point. However, 15 minutes is way too long. Our suspicion was that because we weren’t ordering wine, we were shafted to the bottom of the priority list. On top of that, our water glasses were never refilled, and the server maybe came to check on us once or twice at most. It wasn’t even a super busy night. Sure, the owner may be Karzai’s brother, but my personal belief is that as long as you have 46-chromosomes, you should still treat others equally. I also have a huge distaste for people and restaurants who selectively “discriminate” based on wine or alcohol purchase. Guaranteed, this is just a hypothesis for why service was so bad, but the facts are straightforward: service was God-awful. Actually, shoot, you shouldn’t discriminate against anyone period (but that’s another blog entry for another day).
- kaddo borwani:***(3 stars)
- lamb lawand:***(3 stars)
I probably will not be coming back here again. There are better places to eat and more places to try. But if you wanted to check it out for yourself, I hope you have a much better experience than I do. You can find them here:
806 North Charles Street. Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Until next time…