Lebanese Taverna in B-more: Run, don't walk!
My wife and I went there Thursday and were blown away by the food. We ordered off the extensive mezze section: katafy shrimp were yummy, the breading similar to panko, lamb tartar had an appealing, unusually smooth texture, the beef and lamb meatballs in yogurt sauce with pieces of phyllo was masterful in its juxtapositions of flavor and texture, swiss chard stems were excellent, and the hummus with fava beans featured the best hummus I've ever tasted. The only thing I didn't love were the pastries with spinach and pine nuts. They were a little on the lemony side for me. For dessert, we split a variation on bread pudding with pistachio. Very tasty. With 2 glasses of arak (Lebanese ouzo) and 1 glass of wine (all our drinks were $8), our check was $75 before tip. The mezze portions are generous, most are priced from $5-9, and the 6 mezze and dessert we ordered was a lot of food. I know this place has become something of a local chain, but these guys know what they're doing. Service was impeccable, too.Apparently, there are 5 brothers and each now has his own restaurant. This place is the best thing to hit Baltimore that I can remember in ages, it's on the circle at the very end of President St.
We were there Thursday as well. And, very, very, very pleased. We ordered four different mezzes, which, actually, were too much. (We had walked down Eastern Ave first, and found some place that was opening there, giving out coupons for free apps, so we started with some pretty forgettable calamari. I think I"ll post a new thread on this place....)
Anyway, beautiful place w/o being stuffy, great food, reasonable price, great service. I look forward to returning often!
Given that the cuisine is Lebanese, how does it compare to the place up by JHU's main campus (the Carlyle Club?). Isn't that place also Lebanese? To put it another way, I'm wondering if the buzz is due to the relative novelty of Lebanese in Baltimore, or more of a commentary on how much better the new place is compared to the only other Lebanese place (at least that I know of) in town. I'm not counting the mostly carry-out place in Locust Point whose name escapes me.
Please note, I've never been to the Carlyle Club so I honestly don't know if there's good reason they don't get mentioned here (there well might be), and I've only been to the Tyson's Corner outpost of Lebanese Taverna. If the Tyson's location is any indication, I would agree that L.T. is quite good.
I'm looking forward to having good Lebanese in town (or another good one, whichever the case may be). I'm going to try the B'more outpost of L.T. fairly soon, though I won't have the "secret weapon" I've had during my visits to the Tysons location - an out-of-town business colleague who is native Lebanese.
When we go to the Tyson's L.T. after a business meeting, Sam pulls the manager aside, an animated discussion in Arabic ensues with lots of back slapping, gesticulation and smiles, and when our party sits down, a wonderful parade of dishes appears, some of which I don't think are on the normal menu. It'll be nice to have L.T. local, and not have to wait for my Lebanese fix until the next time Sam is in town!
Went on Saturday and had a wonderful time. The food was excellent and the service was quick and friendly. The only downside was that it could be one of the loudest restaurants I've been to, but it was very busy and that one thing won't keep me from going back. Hope to revisit in a week or so and go the Mezze route.