Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ya Hala

I have been wanting to branch out of our comfort zone a bit and try some ethnic cuisine which might include flavors and sensations outside of what we normally partake. I believe that we breached our safety zone last evening with cuisine from Lebanon and we emerged from the doors of the restaurant with pleased palates. In fact, due to the copious quantities and our desires to taste each of the items set before us, we came away a bit over full. The host generously offered us carry out boxes so we can continue our enjoyment at home.

Not being at all familiar with the items offered in the
menu, we asked our server to help us with our choices which she did with a pleasant smile. We started with a mezza selection which is an appetizer apparently. We chose the Veggie Mezza. It was an assortment of various finger foods, pastes, and what we normally call salsa to be eaten with the wonderfully freshly baked pita bread. That was where the over eating began. The flavors were delightful and in essence, we ate too much bread at the very beginning.

Freshly baked pita bread. They brought more after we ate the first two.

Here is the homous. It is a paste made of garbanzo beans with various additional ingredients to enhance and complete the dish. The Baba Ghanouj looked nearly the same but its main ingredient is eggplant. Click on the image above with all of the mezze plates pictured together for a better look at the subtle color differences. The flavor, of course, was far more distinct but each was good in its own way.

This mezze dish was called Tabouli. As I mentioned earlier, it is much the same as what we call Salsa. It, too, went well with the pita.

Our last mezze plate featured Aranabeet which essentially is a piece of quickly deep fried cauliflower. It is not my favorite choice of vegetable but I ate it and am still here today to report that it really wasn't that bad. This plate also featured a couple of grape leaf wraps. They were good. I have no idea what was in them. It was a bit like eating a pickle but not really. I would certainly eat them again. The final two items on this dish were called Falafel. These are apparently a deep fried dumpling made of finely ground garbanzo beans. I ate one and it was good but I was already beginning to suffer from over-indulgence so the flavor was some-what wasted on my palate. I brought one home so perhaps if it retains its characteristics through to the next day, I will know better how good they were.

There was one thing that I wanted to mention but was hesitant to place it at the end of this post because I prefer being able to end on a high note. Debbie ordered lemonade. The menu describes it as lemonade with orange blossom water. She let me have a taste because it was just so weird. It was like someone poured perfume into the drink. I had to agree with her that it just didn't taste good. Ok, let's get back to the things we really enjoyed.

Our entrees each came with an green salad topped with a vinagrette.

Debbie chose a chicken kabob on a bed of rice. She could have chosen beef or lamb but I suspect that she felt that chicken was a "safe bet".

My choice was a couple of lamb shanks in a nice sauce with the rice on the side. It was very interesting that the lamb was cooked in such a way that the distinct lamb flavor was somewhat more subtle than it often is. The dish was garnished with mint which is also different to me. I really haven't experienced it with savory dishes before. It was good and I am looking forward to my plate of leftovers.

I am confident that we will eat here again. I'm pretty sure that even with some of her reservations about certain unusual foods, even Debbie enjoyed her meal. Perhaps next time it would be prudent to only order selections from the mezza list. It would be much more economical as well although now that I've said that I should mention that we got out of there for less than $50.00 and brought home enough to eat a light meal later. I think it would be worth the trip for you if you're in the area.


Sheree said...

I'm curious what the greens were, and also was that hummus on one of the plates? Everything looks delicious! I'm sure I would have over eaten as well...:)

Konrad said...

I'm glad you tried the Middle Eastern foods. We love it. I particularly like Baba Ghanoush and falafel. I can easily make a meal of just that and the nice hot fresh pitas.

brenda sue said...

Wow, you were more brave than I've ever been. I have yet to try Middle Eastern food. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)