ISO Middle Eastern Restaurants/entertaining large group of Iraqis
My husband will be entertaining a largish group of visiting Iraqis next week for business reasons, and the preference is to stick with Middle Eastern food (this is based on prior experiences and dietary preferences). The group may be between 10 and 15 people. Price not an object, but am looking for good Middle Eastern/Lebanese restaurants that can accomodate that size group and is not a hole in the wall (no matter how delicious it might be). Generally, location not an issue, but I have a hard time imagining taking them to somewhere in say Alphabet City/LES. Thought we like the cuisine, we don't eat at many ME places, so I'm just not very familiar with the options. We took a much smaller, similar group to Beyoglu a year or two ago and found it somewhat uninteresting - or at least the main courses.
It's likely that we'll need several different places for different nights.
Would appreciate any suggestions - many thanks!
The first place that comes to mind, unfortunately for your location preferences, is Mamlouk, which is on 4th street between Ave A and B. There's a prix fixe menu at around $35 pp and they can easily accomodate that size group. Service can be inattentive, but I really love the food. I believe the owners are Iraqi, but they may be Lebanese.
Related (I think) is Moustache, but that is much more casual. The EV location can accomodate a large group in the back garden area, but I doubt the WV location can.
Also good is Pars, an Iranian place in Chelsea. It's the best of the Iranian restaurants in Manhattan, which isn't saying much. Their appetizers are very good, but kebabs are much much better at Persepolis, an Iranian place on 2nd ave and 74th st.
I can understand the reaction to Beyoglu. While I liked the food there, it really is *very* mezze-oriented. With the exception of the excellent doner kebab, there is not much to choose from in the main course category.
Byblos, on 39th St., just east of 3rd Av., is a Lebanese restaurant. Although we've been there a number of times and always enjoyed ourselves, it's been quite a few years since we last ate there. I recall Hound posts within the past year or so that indicated the food remains very good. While not the fanciest place in town, it's far from a hole-in-the-wall. Quite sizable, actually. Of course, it's possible the decor has been changed since our last visit, but at that time, it was pleasant. They have entertainment on the weekend.
There is the more upscale Lebanese restaurant, Al Bustan. We ate there once and felt that, while the ambiance was nicer than Byblos', the quality of the food was not really better, so why pay more? But in your case, you might want to spring for the extra bucks because of the nicer surroundings.
Parea, which serves modern Greek cuisine, opened in the spring. We had dinner there in May, and I thought the food was delicious. Service was excellent, and the large space has stylish contemporary decor. No problem handling big groups.
Of course, there's our favorite, Turkish Kitchen. First rate food and very attractive decor. Larger groups are usually seated upstairs.