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Evanston, IL: The Spice House and Olive Mountain Restaurant

We checked out The Spice House (1941 Central St., Evanston, IL) and it was a fantastic store. I think what made the experience better than going to Penzeys is the level of customer service. The employees were friendly and very helpful. They also have taster bottles of spices so you can try it before you buy it. They also have many different spices, blends, and extracts than Penzeys. You can also order from them online too.

Here are some of the goodies I bought. Back Row (L to R): Orange Flower Water, Pure Peppermint Extract, Pomegranate Molasses, Rose Water, Lavender Vanilla Sugar, Tuscan Bread Dipping Seasoning. Front Row (L to R): Little Italy NYC Style Herbs and Amchoor Powder.

I was really excited to find the pomegranate molasses. I’ve been looking for it for quite some time. I’ve been finding a lot of recipes using Amchoor (Amchur) powder lately and I was thrilled to spot it on the shelf. The woman helping us told us they just got it in not too long ago. Amchoor is dried unripe green mango powder and it’s used in Indian cuisine. I just found out about it this year thanks to Sara’s I Like to Cook Blog.

After the sales on Saturday (all we ending up buying was the chair) and spice shopping, we were starving. We stopped at the Olive Mountain Restaurant that I read about online. They’re located at 610 Davis in Evantson, IL. It’s a Middle Eastern restaurant with fantastic lunch specials. We each had the falafel sandwich lunch special which comes with your choice of soup, hummos, or salad and a beverage all for $5.50. The sandwiches are huge and they are made in wide-pocket pita (not rolled up). You’ll need two hands to grip them. The sandwiches are also filled with their Jerusalem salad which is cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley in a tahini dressing. We also got an appetizer of Foul which is one of my favorite Middle Eastern foods (and I do make it at home too)…it’s cooked fava beans with olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, and hot sauce. It was so good that in addition to dipping my pita bread in it, I ate it by the spoonful.

The service was wonderful too. It was fast, efficient, and pleasant. Each table gets a carafe of water and they refilled ours without us having to ask. I love that! And of course, an important non-food aspect…their restrooms were clean! Parking was a bit hard to find since we weren’t familiar with the area. We lucked out after circling the block and found a metered spot on the street. After we left, we found two public parking garages which we’ll keep in mind for next time if need be. Another thing we forgot about…change for the parking meter! Luckily we still had a small bag of change in the car which we used for the tollways before we had our I-PASS.

I’ll get pictures of the food next time we go there!!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day. 😀

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • scottishvegan March 7, 2007, 5:07 pm

    That sounds like a great day out! I love the photo of your goodies. I love the colour of whatever they are sitting on (is it your kitchen counter?). Have you any plans for what you are going to use the pomegranate molasses for? I made BBQ Pomegranate Tofu from VWaV and now I am not sure what to do with the rest…if you have ideas I’d love to know!

  • bazu March 7, 2007, 5:52 pm

    Oh my gosh- I’m jealous! You got such good spices- and the little bottles are darling! For someone who’s… shall we say, obsessive about storage, those bottles are like nirvana. =)
    Amchoor is an Indian spice I haven’t used yet- also asafoetida. I’ll be really interested in seeing how you use it!

    And that restaurant sounds fab. Sigh. I wish I could visit Evanston.

    Oh… my birthday is 3/27. I’m supposedly an aries, but I so don’t feel like one!

  • Diann March 7, 2007, 9:34 pm

    I know you had a blast in the spice store. I often fantasize about opening my own spice shop and baking little goodies to leave out. I can’t wait to see what you concoct with your purchases! Your falafel lunch sounds great – such great food at a great price.

  • vegandiva March 8, 2007, 8:42 am

    Scottishvegan, yep, that’s our kitchen counter in the condo we’re renting. I’ve got a few recipes I’m going to try with pomegranate molasses so stay tuned 🙂 I’ve got one recipe already on my menu plan for next week.

    Bazu, I fell in love with all those little bottles too…they had so many neat spices and exrtacts…I wish I could have bought them all. LOL Too bad you’re not close to Chicago. I’d be up for Olive Mountain food anytime and I can’t resist that lunch special they have. My dad is an aries too, his birthday is 3/29. I’m a scorpio and they’re supposedly extremely stubborn…I don’t think I am but I’m sure there are people who beg to differ! LOL

    Diann, the spice store was so much fun. Rob enjoyed it too, namely trying out the taster bottles. LOL If you had a spice store, there would be lines out the door of people trying to get your baked good samples 😀 I can’t wait to get starting cooking and baking up a storm this weekend with my new extracts and spices.

  • pinknest March 8, 2007, 9:56 am

    oh that all sounds so lovely! i love fava beans. and i’ve never tried pomegranate molasses, but it sounds divine.

  • Kati March 8, 2007, 2:49 pm

    Ooh the Spice House sounds like a fun place! I wish I had uniform bottles for all my spices…my cupboard is literally overflowing and dying to be organized. I think I actually saw pomegranate molasses at Whole Foods recently. Do you use it like regular molasses?

    Evanston is a neat town. You should check out Blind Faith Cafe next time you’re there – it’s pretty tasty.

  • vegandiva March 9, 2007, 2:10 pm

    Pinknest, oh good, another fava bean fan 🙂 I’m really anxious to try out the Spice House pom. molasses. It smells so good.

    Kati, yep, you can use it like regular molasses, although it seems to be used predominately in cooking, not so much in baking. I’ve heard of the Blind Faith Cafe before. Thanks for letting me know it’s tasty. 🙂

    I know we’ll be going back to Evanston again…The Spice House was awesome. They have one in Chicago too…their web site says it’s in Old Town.

  • Randi March 10, 2007, 7:42 pm

    I like the spice house a lot better than penzeys. I’ve only done a mail order from the spice house though. The ppl who own both companies are related somehow. I like the packaging better from the spice house.

  • damewigginsoflee March 19, 2007, 1:31 pm

    This is good to know. We were thinking of checking this place out next weekend. Thanks for the recommendations.