The belly dancer was the highlight. The bad part is that the belly dancer wasn’t that good-just better than the food.

We went on a North Loop crawl last week to break out of our normal routine of hovering around East Austin, outflanking the hookers and dealers and basking in places like White Horse, Three Little Pigs, Weatherup and Hot Mama’s.

It was a largely successful outing save for our time at Phara’s. The big courtyard is well set-up for large groups. If you travel with 30-50 people in your pack then this would be a good place as there are numerous tables that could easily accommodate conventioneers, gangs or other folks who only leave the house with 2 dozen of their associates.

It would also be a good place to get drunk-if you’ve planned out your evening well in advance. It’s byob. Everybody had a bottle of wine on their table-except us and we were far, far away from our only source: East End Wines, the finest shop in all of Travis County.

We decide to split a Mezza sampler and then get back to the thrust of the evening elsewhere.

Bad call. A “platter” soon arrives with a handful of careless dollops of hummus, baba ghanouj, dolma, tabbouleh and tzatziki. Pita bread, straight from the microwave nearly sends me into a dull rage. The dolma is the least offensive, by that I mean tolerable, but the hummus and the baba ghanou are both so heavily salted they are almost inedible.

The couple at the adjacent table are highly entertaining. A big sexy hoss cat of a gal is working the tug-boat-captain-with-a-night-of-shore-leave fashion aesthetic while simultaneously mauling her diminutive slip-of-a-lass date.

Intriguing.

Unfortunately, even this floor show is not enough to save the experience. We loved the heyday of Ararat Cafe, lo those many years ago. Phara’s occupies the same space but that’s where the similarity ends.

If they would allow byom {bring your own meal} to match up with their byob policy we might come back. Otherwise, Arpeggio is right up the road and immeasurably better.

previous Austin Daily Photos http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Austin-Daily-Photo

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