laili.jpgWith its cavernous ceilings, sleek sophisticated surfaces (thanks to Mark Primack) and wine list studded with euro-stars such as Grüner Veltliner and various Austrian reds, Laili could be the east-Asian sibling of Soif.

We checked out the new Afghani dining room for my birthday last week and found it bracingly Palo Alto in feel, a neat trick considering my grandfather used to have an account in this former County Bank building. Excellent service and beautiful presentation were the stars. Both of our lamb dishes hit the spot, yet were curiously monotone after several bites.

Afghani food is not very spicy, nor is it particularly wide-ranging in ingredients. So I’m hoping that the chef and owner put their heads together to expand the menu, perhaps adding a few seafood dishes (yes, I know there’s no shrimp along the Khyber Pass) seasoned “Afghani-style.”  In order for Laili to build a clientele of regulars, it needs to offer a bit more in the way of entree diversity – or perhaps a few daily specials. And at least one seafood item.
My glass of Sattler 2006 St. Laurent (an Austrian red grape with the appeal of a soft Pinot Noir) went nicely with a wide plate of lamb kebab, accompanied by memorable current-studded rice, expertly sauteed baby vegetables and some lovely chutneys, notablty a cilantro puree and an apricot variation.

Laili – 101B Cooper Street – 831-423-4545 –