PHOENICIA MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE -- HIGHLAND PARK, ILLINOIS
I had the great opportunity to dine at Phoenicia for lunch and dinner recently. Every employee at this restaurant makes you feel at home and a truly welcome guest. We had a grilled chicken dish at one meal and roasted lamb at another. Both were exceptional as were the sides served with them. But i want to tell you about my new passions there. They make a babaganoush that is so light, fluffy and smokey. No seeds and no eggplant peel in it. Very different than what i have been used to and absolutely the best. Their carrot soup is exceptional. It is thick and creamy, although it has not a drop of dairy product in it. It has the most wonderful taste and texture and puts all others to shame. OH, yes i forgot, the baklava. You must try theirs. It is flaky, sweet, mouth watering, topped with chopped pistachio, cant get enough of it good.
SORRY MY ERROR: i meant to type babaganoush and in error typed humus. Sorry.
Phoenicia has been a mainstay in Highland Park for years. Joseph, the owner, is from Lebanon and his recipes are his family's. In the summer he has outside seating. Part of the dinner is the wonderful relish dish with pickles, radishes peppers etc. We always order the combination appetizer dish with grape leaves, hummos, falaffel, babaganoush, tebolah etc. which makes for a wonderful starter. The red snapper (dripping with salt water, as Joseph likes to say) is also one of the most popular dishes along with the kababs. One of my favorites is the chicken with couscous and curry sauce. I can take that sauce intravenously it is so good.
The halavah is like nothing we had ever eaten. He usually makes it in the summer and it is very unusual, not a brick you cut into but a thin stringy melt in your mouth variety. Joseph offers very reasonably priced wines and does allow you to bring in your own wine with a reasonable corkage fee. All in all, a wonderful restaurant with an outgoing and popular owner and a great staff. Highly recommended!
DW and I had dinner there a week ago - it's a short walk from the Landmark Cinema.
It is really Lebanese cuisine, and quite tasty. The falafel were large and crispy but very moist and flavorful. The hummus had less tahini than most others, which we enjoyed. Carrot soup was excellent and they shared the recipe freely (madras curry is the key). Shrimp were well cooked and seasoned. The lamb special (don’t remember the name) reminded me of the Lebanese flavors I used to eat in Caracas years ago but haven’t found around here. It was prepared with eggplant and cauliflower over rice and had green beans with a tomato base on the side. No desert tray but they did have a small plate with Lebanese baked sweets that looked enticing. We overate.
People were nice, service was very attentive, and we’ll be back with a larger group. Highly recommended.
I have returned to Highland Park for Thanksgiving, and yesterday we were (as usual) arguing about what to eat for dinner. The chinese options were dismaying, so somebody suggested this place.
I was plaeasantly surprised. The babaghanoush, labne, and fatoush were all amazing. the lamb schwarma was wonderful. The hummus and felefal were a bit average. All in all, a great choice.