Last Tuesday was my second Bite Club event at Mandaloun Mediterranean. I have been to this restaurant before and it’s one of my favorites. I was so excited to go back and try a few items I have never tried!
I arrived just at 5:45 and people were getting drinks at the bar. The walls are painted with mountainous scenery, there are white columns and rich wood high tops that make for a charming and inviting atmosphere.
We were offered quite an extensive taste of the entire menu!
My friend Justine attended again.
Our foodie friends Kim and David also attended.
Justine brought her mom Madeline as her guest.
And finally, I also brought another foodie friend, Courtney!
To start, the owner came out and gave us background on the restaraunt and what we would be tasting.
And then the food began to come out.
Fresh pita with an oregano herb dipping oil.
First up was the Hummus: A puree of chickpeas mixed with sesame cream and lemon juice.
Theirs is so smooth and creamy and has a little dip in the middle with extra virgin olive oil.
Baba Ganoush: Puree of grilled eggplant mixed with sesame cream and lemon juice.
This was the first time I actually liked Baba Ganoush. Normally it has this weird almost bitter aftertaste but this one was also very creamy and I loved the texture. I even went back in for seconds!
Tabbouleh: Finely chopped parsley, tomato, onion, touch of white pepper, crushed wheat, olive oil and lemon dressing.
There were ooohs and aaahhs when this came out. It was so fresh it had to have been made right then.
Fattoush: Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radish, onion, mint, lemon pepper, crispy pita bread with olive oil, lemon and pomegranate dressing.
I think the Fattoush was the star of the show. The pomegranate dressing is tangy with that bite of vinegar that tickles the back of your throat. Is has sort of the sweet/tart cranberry-esque flavor. There are a ton of fresh aromatic herbs on top and then when you bite into the crispy pita you will swear you died and went to heaven. This is my most favorite dish there. I’ve tried to recreate it but there’s just no substitution for theirs.
Sambousek – Meat Pie: Deep fried Lebanese pastry stuffed with minced beef and pine nuts.
I, personally, am not a huge fan of fried foods but the outside was crispy and flavorful and the inside was tender, meaty and crumbly. If you like meat and fried foods I would go with this as an appetizer.
Sambousek Jebneh – Cheese Pie: Deep fried Lebanese pastry stuffed with feta cheese and mint.
When I bit into this one I was pleasantly surprised. I had forgotten there was fresh mint inside! I loved the combo of the aromatic mint and gooey salty feta.
Fatayer - Spinach Pie: Pastry stuffed with spinach, onion and pine nuts.
Out of the three pies this was my favorite as it was mainly veggie and it was baked! The onions added a sweetness and the pine nuts a delicious crunch. I would definitely order these again.
Mini Kebabs: Chicken and Beef Kebabs served over rice.
The star of the main course, for me, was actually the rice! I did enjoy the grilled chicken, however the beef was a bit on the dry side. We all discussed the rice trying to guess all the flavors, I thought I tasted a cinnamon, David said tumeric, saffron and cumin. I believe everyone went back in for more on the rice.
I tried two wines. One was a Lebanese red, Le Prieure, Ksara, and one was a inexpensive Domestic Red, Five Rivers Cabernet. I took a photo of the Cab as it was excellent and so inexpensive.
I must say I’m terrible at describing wine so Courtney….if you read this you must tell us what you thought!
And finally…the desserts. Both of them made me close my eyes and slowly savor. I ate each and every bite.
Baklava: Traditional Lebanese Pastry filled with nuts, pistachios and almonds.
This small round tube was so light and crispy with sweet/salty nuts crushed nuts.
Nammoura: Sweet coconut baked with semolina.
I loved the texture of the semolina and coconut. (Which is weird as I typically hear people say they like the flavor of coconut but not the texture.) Semolina is a form of wheat, I have also heard it called groats. It was baked into the bar form you see below with coconut and saturated with a thick sweet liquid. Each bite had texture and sweetness with the consistency of a thin honey.