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“Delicious appetizers”
Review of The Helmand

The Helmand
Ranked #31 of 642 Restaurants in Cambridge
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $21 - $30
Cuisines: Middle Eastern
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Romantic, Business meetings, Special occasions
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Reviewed May 24, 2013

The food here is quite delicious, especially the appetizers. In particular, the pumpkin with ground beef (kaddo) is not something I've seen elsewhere and it is superb. I get that every time I go there. The flat bread that comes right out of the oven is fabulous. Sometimes I don't need a main course because of all the appetizer and side options that I want to have. Another favorite of mine is the okra (bendi) and spinach. The service can be a little hit or miss sometimes, it really depends on the server, but overall, the food and ambiance are quite excellent. It's a rare gem in the East Cambridge neighborhood.

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Thank Joe C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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196 - 200 of 390 reviews

Reviewed May 13, 2013

We travelled to Boston the weekend after the bombings to support the city we love so very much. I had googled restaurants close to our hotel and had found the Helmand which is an Afghanistan inspired establishment. Our family of four loved the food. Our waiter suggested a nice wine that went well with my pumpkin appetizer & kabob main course. My husband enjoyed a lamb dish- he remarked that he was not much of a lamb fan but that this dish was the best he'd had. We ended up with way more food than we needed... the clay fire oven and the bread & sauces alone would bring me back!

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Thank Anastasia A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2013

The concierge at the Sonesta recommended this as the top restaurant in the area and it was barely a block away from the hotel. Our server was superb, knew the menu, guided us to great choices, and kept us well attended. My colleague knew something about Afghan food and seconded the pumpkin recommendation. We ordered two vegetarian dishes and divided these large portions between two people: "Special" was baked pumpkin (delightful!), eggplant, sauteed spinach, and small whole okra served with pallow rice; "Kourma Challow" included green beans, cauliflower, turnips, potato, onions, and tomatoes, with garlic/ginger/cilantro over challow rice. These two preparations of rice were boiled, spiced differently, and then baked. We also ordered two sides: spinach and Kaddo (seasoned baby pumpkin). This was an absolutely extraordinary vegetarian taste treat, with each element beautifully prepared and spiced. Will have to try the sister restaurant in Baltimore and sample the lamb dishes (both restaurants are apparently owned and operated by Mahmood Karzai, a brother of Hamid Karzai; as US taxpayers, we felt that perhaps we count as part owners...).

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1  Thank fred200099
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2013

For a very alien take on food, some folks like to try exotic food, recipes, restaurants. America certainly is a place for those of us who seek out places like Helmand: a restaurant that serves up food that purports to be from a culture that currently tangled in conflict with our own. Our city has a has a lang and contemporary history of welcoming and resolutely harboring immigrants and one of the many benefits of this acceptance is meals like the one you're likely to have here.

This was our second attempt to visit, the previous having been quickly abandoned due to the long wait. Well, now we know why there was a long wait for a table. I wish we had not waited so long between that first try and our success this Friday to try again.

7:00 PM Friday we met a work friend from a previous job to catch up and sample what those in Cambridge have come to appreciate from middle asia, namely Afghanistan. This is a linen table cloth place with a good wine list and very good table service. The staff did everything to ensure our meal ran smoothly, that we had what we needed when we needed it and perceptibly just as we realized we needed it. There was an absolute minimum of distraction, too. We were able to enjoy the company of our dinner guest and the delights on our plate.

Dinner Details: the bread is very good. The sauces that come with it are very good, too.

Kaddo - comes with or without beef. This appetizer is an impostor; it's really a desert for those who enjoy having their treat before the meal. The menu says it's "baked baby pumpkin seasoned with sugar and served on yogurt garlic sauce, topped with ground beef sauce" but that doesn't nearly do it justice. There are two other meals that I have had that pull off what this does: it does sweet, very sweet and has a bit of savory at the same time. I wouldn't miss the Kaddo. We had it both with and without the beef in order to satisfy one diner. It's great both ways but the beef added the savory for me in a really worthwhile reward.

Chowpan - a great lamb dish, well seasoned with very good rice pillow rice more of the bread and a sautéed eggplant.

Kourma Challow - looked great, our guest enjoyed it immensely. She's actually the one to have recommended Helmand as our destination.

We'll be back. It was a great meal, the room was filled with people really enjoying their meals. The rugs cut the sound enough to allow for conversation and the price about $50 per person seemed reasonable for a great bottle of wine, a terrific, exotic meal and most importantly time catching up with a good friend.

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Thank LearningCurv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 26, 2013

Our cousin Pam is an anthropologist who spent most of her adult life among Afghani people and always got our appetites excited by her descriptions of their food. When we lived in Chicago, she introduced us to the real thing there at a now-closed restaurant, also called Helmand, where our table was often visited by the owner, Ahmed Wali Karzai, a half-brother of Hamid Karzai, current President of Afghanistan, who was rumored to be a partner in the enterprise. Because we loved the food at that Helmand, we were pleased to find another Afghan restaurant of the same name in the Boston area when we were there for a January get-away. On a frigid evening (5 above zero) our party of four slogged several bone-chilling blocks from the "T"-stop and were relieved to enter into the Helmand's toasty dining room, already half-filled and lively at an early hour. It is not an elegant room, but, warmed by a big fireplace and an authenticly-domed Afghan bread oven and decorated with colorful Afghan crafts and artifacts, it felt both cosy and inviting to us. The service we got was correct and dignified (not over-attentive and over-friendly as is so common today). It might have been a little slow at times, but this was compatible with our being relaxed, comfortable, and in no big hurry. Though the menu seemed a bit exotic to the couple with us, who had never had Afghan food before, the menu's careful descriptions of each dish soon had them as eager to order as we were. (Anyone worried about whether they would like this cuisine can look in advance at the detailed menu descriptions and mouth-watering photos of certain dishes at the restaurant's Website, http://www.helmandrestaurant.com/.) The food is wonderfully flavorful but not overly spicy, and there is a wide vegetarian choice. We were happy with all our choices, especially the Chowpan (marinated lamb chops which were some of the best any of us have ever had. I am not sure of the extent of its bar, but Helmand has a good quality and reasonable wine list.

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Thank CHARLES G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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