Nov. 3 2010 12:00 AM

Familiar favorites shine in new Woody’s Oasis


With shiny new digs only 500 feet west of its former home in the Trowbridge Plaza, Woody’s Oasis is now showing off its kabobs, hummus and schawarma in style, even if it was difficult to say goodbye to an almost 25-year-old store that spawned what is now a successful local franchise, including two additional locations and a thriving catering and wholesale business.

Woody’s role as a supplier, in fact, has caused many of the growing pains co-owner Dalida Raad says. Along with her husband, Chuck Raad, the couple have widened Woody’s reach to include supplying Michigan State University cafeterias and a handful of local grocery stores. But the move came with some trepidation.

"I was concerned with people not wanting change," Dalida Raad says. So some memories will endure.

"We brought the menu sign over from the old location," Raad says. "It’s like a smack in the face when you walk in."

The Mediterranean theme endures, too, with decorative palm trees, slatted bamboo-like serving stands, and sand-colored tables and booths. The dining area is open without division, airy with a tall ceiling and large windows, and punctuated with a faux stone paneling.

The soon-to-be finished patio has grown with the move, too, an upgrade from the few lonely tables clinging to the old building like leaves on an oak tree in November. The area will seat over 20.

The traditional Middle Eastern meals still dominate the menu, and the same ladies are assembling them in the kitchen, some of them having working for Woody’s for over 20 years, Raad says.

The kafta wrap ($3.95), with seasoned beef, lettuce, tomato, pickled turnips and hummus, is a crowd-pleaser. The rustic pita and zesty meat contrasts beautifully with the zip of the turnips and creamy garlic bite of hummus. Lentil soup ($3.29 bowl) warms you to the toes in the brisk air of autumn.

Vegetarians will find much to eat, including a number of salads, falafal (seasoned, fried chipeas) in different styles, baba ghanoush and more. Soon Woody’s will offer kosher and halal versions of a few menu items at the restaurant.

A raw juice bar is coming soon, too, so you can grab something healthy to go along with one of Woody’s homemade treats, like sweet, flaky baklava. And if you want the creamiest, most lip-smackingly delicious cheese in town, take home a bulk tin of French or Bulgarian sheep’s milk feta.

The Raads will keep the old location, although its repurposing has yet to be determined. Wholesale and catering operations are still running through the old kitchen until Thanksgiving weekend when a brief break in the action will allow for the transfer of production to the new building.