Afghan but not forgotten
The evolution of Porter Square continues in intriguingly repetitive ways. Hoity-toity kitchen gear shop Arclinea is gone, replaced by custom handbag shop Anna Williams. The Porter Square Cafe, to which I went once, is gone, replaced by sports bar Spirit, to which I suspect I will never go again. The popular Cafe International is gone, replaced by Thai restaurant Sugar & Spice, which is also very popular — implying that its owners should watch out before they’re replaced by a third popular business. Now Maharajah, the Indian restaurant, is gone, to be replaced by …
An Afghan restaurant, Buzkashi.
Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan, a horsey game that owes more to raping and pillaging than does polo or dressage. Diners can expect the food to have as much to do with horses as the predecessor restaurant did with maharajahs; what’s interesting about the coming of Buzkashi is that it’s the second Afghan restaurant in Cambridge, after the Helmand, down by the Cambridgeside Galleria. The Helmand is an upscale casual chain with sites in San Francisco and Baltimore and the distinction of being run by family members of Hamid Karzai, the interim president of Afghanistan.
Afghan food is good — savory in ways that are somewhat similar to Indian food, for geographically obvious reasons, but let’s hope the similarities end there. Maharajah was, briefly, the best Indian food around. It took a turn for the overpriced and cartoonish years ago, and Porter Squarians were justified in switching allegiance to Passage to India or even traveling to Davis Square for Diva, the Indian, ugh, Bistro, which features the same food with a nicer atmosphere and pretentious name.
Buzkashi looks to be less fancy than the Helmand, which is good, since one should always have options on the fanciness scale (especially if it’s across the street from you and you hope to eat there a lot). It also appears to be about the 80th Afghan restaurant in the United States, barring some pocket hidden from the folks at Afghanrestaurants.com.