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Jun 3, 2011 03:21 PM

Al Wadi, Lebanese restaurant in West Roxbury


I finally made it to Al Wadi Lebanese restaurant in West Roxbury. Formerly occupying the strange Chinese restaurant, Spring Blossom, the interior is kind of fancy looking, with nice chandeliers.

Since I have a deathly allergy to sesame and tree nuts, I couldn't try THAT much, but I'll try to do my best at relaying the impressions my 4 DCs had of the food, one of whom is Lebanese herself.

-A basket of cold pita bread was brought out for the table. Disappointing, considering the price point of the restaurant. I come from Michigan, and I know that most of the Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurants in Dearborn always give freshly baked, steaming, hot loaves of pita. A bowl of za'atar (spicy sesame-y dipping sauce) was given, but of course, I didn't try any. It was deemed to be excellent.

Various mezze were ordered:

-Haloumi: Average. Not as tasty as the haloumi I've had at various Greek restaurants. A few blocks were pan fried and presented with some fresh tomato slices, cucumber, and 6 olives. Nothing impressive. I wish the cheese had more flavor, and texturewise, I tend to like more "tooth-squeak".

-Grape leaves: Didn't get to try these, but they were deemed "pretty good". Sorry this isn't helpful.

-Kibbeh (baked, torpedo-looking kind): Didn't try these, as they contained pine nuts. Perfect looking specimens shape-wise, but really dried out looking. I'm not sure if 2 out of 5 were left untouched because they weren't good, or because my DCs were too full.

-An otherwise great salad with WAY too much lemon. It would have been lovely if they weren't so heavy handed with the lemon. Had dry mint, romaine, fresh tomatoes, and little soggy pita strips.

-Kofta Nayeh - essentially lamb tartare. Ground up raw lamb was presented on a wooden chopping block, moulded into an armadillo-shaped mound. Raw red onions, and a mound of super-garlic mayo-y spread was accompaniment. I was hot about the idea of this dish at first, but was glad I didn't order it for my entree, as it wasn't "lamby" enough for me. Lebanese friend said it was just an "OK" rendition.

-My main entree was the braised lamb shank over rice. It would have been quite delicious if it weren't 65% fat. Yes, I know the shank is a fatty thing, but this bone was mostly large chunks of fat intersperse with dense chunks of tender meat. The meat was nice, however I felt a tad cheated with the fat/meat ratio. Braised in a mild tomato-y sauce, nothing remarkable (which is fine, as I got to taste the lamb-y spirit of it), served over Uncle Bensesque rice pilaf.

-The best thing we ordered was a giant bowl of fries. Well done, crispy, with a nice crust, and accompanied by a super garlic intense aioli, these guys were addictive.

Overall, it was just average, and for the price, I don't think I would return. Our experience with the service mirrored many Yelp reviews: it was slow especially as the night progressed, and personal interactions could have been more reserved/toned down, again, especially for a restaurant in this price range.

Were I to make a return visit, I might try the fish dishes, and perhaps the shashlik/shawarma-y roast skewered meat dishes might scratch my lamby itch better than the fatty bone that was my entree.

Photos here:

Al Wadi
1249 Vfw Pkwy, Boston, MA 02132

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  1. I got a take out menu when they first opened but hadn't had a chance to order until last week. My wife and I each ordered a kabob plate and I ordered a serving of soup. On my menu the kebab plates were in the $10.00 range. When I picked up the order the bill was $47.00! The kebab plates were, on the current menu over $17.00 apiece. Whilethe food was flavorful I felt it was wildly overpriced and will not return.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ItalyFan

      Sounds like you had the lunch menu prices as they are in line.

    2. Everyone I know who has been there has raved about this place. I'm looking forward to trying it myself.

      2 Replies
      1. re: C. Hamster

        I wouldn't give it a rave, but it's creditable Lebanese food. I've found it to be reasonable value. They try to do it up restaurant style, meaning more attention to presentation, some more spicing. It's not sublime.

        1. re: lergnom

          My one time I found many dishes needed more seasoning, usually salt or lemon.

      2. It's not up to Dearborn standards, but for West Rox I think it's pretty great. I've found 1 entree + apps to be enough for 2 people so the prices are a little more in line with reality that way. Chicken with fries and garlic sauce is one of my favorite things to eat in Boston these days.

        2 Replies
        1. re: skordalia

          No, it's not Daytwah Arabic food. It wouldn't be middling in that level of competition.

          1. re: skordalia

            The Chicken with fries (and Lebanese pickes) were the highlight of our meal there too - I though protion sizes were quite nice.

          2. Hmmm. we were there a couple of months ago and the highlight was the rice and kebabs. The Uncle Ben's comment is disconcerting as they may be cutting corners. I thought these were delicious. Everything else was good not great and fair value, though we had the dinner for two to try a bit of everything. Ordering a la carte is pricier.

            1. Went last night, haven't been there in 4-5 months. Got there early, around 5:45PM, and there was one car in the entire parking lot (front, side, back). Could see a TV on, so I jumped out and confirmed they were open and DW parked the car.

              We were the only customers until another couple showed up around 6PM.

              We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner (and I will equally enjoy my lunch of leftovers, shortly), can't figure out why the place was so barren. We finished up just before 7, and no other customers had arrived.

              I know it's the first day after a holiday weekend, and less likely for folks to go out, maybe, but that empty is concerning.

              1 Reply
              1. re: L2k

                I went for the first time about a month ago and they were packed on a Sunday night. Everything had at the table was fresh and delicious. Hope they do well......I'll be back for sure!