First up, Byblos for lunch. I met Emily in front of the restaurant's new location where the old Nacho Mama's was next to the Bulldog. The space was more intimate than at the previous location, and the decor was simple but with deep reds and golds that set the stage for our meal.
We ordered a little bit of everything, it seemed- the vegetarian platter (with the special request to include a meat stuffed grape leaf alongside the vegetarian one) and one of each kabob they offer. So I was able to get a sense of the traditional dishes as well as their grill work. Also, the Mediterranean hummus which came with feta, olives, roasted red peppers, and general awesomeness.
|Mediterranean hummus. It was gooooood.|
|Vegetarian platter: grape leaves, hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouli, falafel, |
and, incongruously (but delicious) fried cheese
|Kabobs: shrimp, chicken, beef, lamb, fish with rice|
The hummus was really nice, as was the baba ganoush. I really loved the grape leaves- they were obviously made in house, and were delicate and delicious. Apparently the secret ingredient is pomegranate molasses, which adds a slight sweet element to the spicy and savory. The kabobs were tasty - I enjoyed the shrimp especially. When asked how to cook the beef and lamb, the medium rare request yielded more well done pieces of meat. However, they were still tasty and tender, so I wasn't fussed. Simple, flavorful.
At the end of the meal- still so much uneaten but bellies so full - Emily ordered up her favorite dessert, ashta. It's a traditional custard with a twist - covered with phyllo dough, baked up piping hot, and served drizzled in honey and crushed pistachios. Very satisfying- sweet but not too sweet, with contrasting textures.
I'd like to return to really delve into the menu more, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to start out with the standards and basics. The vegetarian platter and the kabobs gave the opportunity for the ingredients to shine - the flavor profiles of Mediterranean cuisine were well represented here.
If it's been a while since you stopped by Byblos, I encourage you to give it another try. The space is much more welcoming and comfortable, and the food is really great. Also, they have a pretty decent draft beer list, which I go into in more detail on my other blog.