Looking for unique restaurants with refreshing concepts in Davis is like shopping for fresh produce at a 99-cent store. The selection is limited, and high expectations should be left behind. What brought us to Winds of Change House in Downtown Davis was their distinctive title, shawarma-ridden menu and a 4.5-star Yelp rating. And once again, it's been proven that titles can be misleading; great ideas may not be well executed; and Yelp reviewers, despite their zest to be honest and helpful, are never to be trusted.
"It's not exactly like the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Turkish shawarma. We call it the Davis shawarma," one of the waiters depicted their rotisserie meat. Excited by the idea of this culinary spin-off, we ordered three dishes, all of which showcased the touted Davis shawarma. The shawarma nachos was the first to arrive. Shoestring fries took the place of tortilla chips. A generous amount of beef shawarma commingled with clumps of rich Gorgonzola. Everything seemed delicious on that rectangular plate. Yet, it failed to deliver the satisfaction it promised. Because the fries were soggy, the dish lacked the fun amalgamation of textures a regular nachos would have. The beef tasted like the traditional shawarma's mousy cousin, decent but rather boring. You could throw Gorgonzola on it the way one might try to dress Plain Jane up in a gold sequin dress, but neither it nor she would ever really shine.
The Melty-Warma--a greasy-looking sandwich with the same timidly-seasoned beef shawarma and a side of fries--was a repeated story. Again, the fries were soggy. Again, the remoulade sauce and melted sharp cheddar couldn't rescue Plain Jane from mediocrity. The saving grace of this meal came in the form of a six-inch-high hamburger, monikered the Towered-Up. A burger and chicken shawarma might sound like an odd pair, but the two did sing a harmonious duet. The chicken shawarma, on its own, was just about as lackluster as the shawarma on the other plates. Luckily, though, it wasn't the lead singer in this duet; the juicy burger patty was. And with the accompaniment of some lovely pickles and crisp garlic slaw, the Towered-Up turned out to be a success. So yes, they did something right! The overall meal wasn't a flat-out failure. But would we want to play this hit-or-miss game again? Maybe not.