August 28, 2003
Owned by the Karzai family of Afghanistan, Helmand is a fine dining restaurant, requiring reservations. The two-page wine list is respectable and well-travelled. We had an Australian Shiraz. There are apparently no Afghani wines available. The room boasts a light decor, one wall lined by wine racks. It almost has a rustic feel, with a real Middle-Eastern touch in the Islamic designs found on the entry-way tiles.
"You must order something with pumpkin!", one of my dining companions exclaimed. Our appetizer of sweetened pumpkin was more delicious than any pumpkin pie. We also ordered a pastry appetizer, a matzoh-inspired crust around spicy mashed potato and scallions and leeks. Our soups were delicious, meaty and thick.
There were so many delicious-sounding items on the menu that it was hard to choose. Leek-stuffed ravioli, meatballs (Koufta) in a tomato sauce, lamb, chicken, and sirloin kabobs all tempted us. Vegetarians had many options as well, including the pumpkin and eggplant special. My dining mates remarked on the balance of our plates, offering an equal amount of grains and vegetables to counterbalance the meat.
After our meal, we were asked to move tables to allow for another party. We said we'd rather just take our green teas to the comfortable leather couch in the waiting area. The owner was very apologetic about his request, and while we sat there continuing our conversation, he brought us an after-dinner cognac on the house. When we left, he shook our hands and thanked us for coming to his restaurant. I was impressed at the service and the personal attitude of this restaurant.
Located near the Cambridgeside Galleria in E. Cambridge, Helmand's location is ideal for Bostonians and Cambridge-ites alike. Parking is easy to find in this neighborhood, with the galleria garage as a last resort.
Reservations are recommended. Even on a Wednesday evening, the restaurant was packed.
From journal The Hub of the Universe