I’m not sure exactly where the place is, which makes it difficult if you want to sample the food yourself. I didn’t even get its name, if indeed it has one. I might have found one mention on the Internet, but it also gave no name.
I can tell you the restaurant is about an hour’s drive, maybe a little more from Duhok, Iraq. The road signs were all in Arabic (which I neither read nor speak), so that didn’t help me at all.
From the outdoor terrace (there is more than one actually, you can see one of Saddam Hussein’s former residences, which appears to now have something to do with the military. That doesn’t narrow things down much; Saddam moved around a lot, he had 82 “palaces” in Iraq.
We hadn’t made a reservation, but were lucky to discover someone watering the grass when we drove up the hill. Turns out the restaurant wasn’t open. It was Monday, and, if I got the translation correctly, they are only open on Fridays. After some negotiation from our guide they agreed to cook us a meal. It probably helped that there were eleven of us and we were paying in American dollars.
There was more food than we could eat, this apparently is part of Iraqi hospitality. We started with a creamy chicken noodle soup that seemed to be served almost everywhere we ate in Iraq. That was followed by skewers of beef, chicken and lamb, marinated and grilled to perfection. Mounds of the local flatbread (which seemed like a cross between pita and naan) to use to grab the meat. There were also cooked onions, and fresh tomato and cucumber. The food was very tasty, but that didn’t matter because this was one of the times when location really is everything. The restaurant is located in a cave.
It is naturally cool, which I am sure saves a bundle on air conditioning. You can eat outdoors also, on one of the terraces that give a very nice view of the valley (and the former palace) but we chose the cave setting.
There was no menu. I don’t know if that’s because we just showed up and had to accept what was offered, or if it was like the kebab shop we went to in Erbil, which offered whatever you liked, as long as it was kebab, and only if you wanted chicken or minced lamb. Or perhaps our guide just placed the order for all of us.
I’m not sure how being open only on Fridays works as a business model, but I was well fed so I won’t complain.
I think the cave is in Enishki, or perhaps that is Inishki – transliteration from the Arabic can depend on the ears of the listener I think. I have no idea how to get there again, but I am still interested in a return trip if I am ever in the area again. I’ll make sure it is a Friday though.