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Aug 31, 2012 11:36 PM

Surprisingly good food at Harissa Mediterranean Cuisine

It was my first visit to Harissa in the Ravenna neighborhood, on NE 65th and 22nd NE. I went mainly to hear music, and was surprised at how much I liked the food.

The appetizers come with pita, but it isn't your usual bland, flabby pockets. Lightly seasoned and grilled crispy. The serving was very generous. Our appetizers were: Labneh, a home made cottage cheese with herbs, garlic and olive oil; and Lebanese salsa salad, with spicy pepper paste, tomatoes, onions, fresh parsley, walnuts, and of course olive oil. Both of these were strongly and distinctly flavored. Perfect with the crispy pitas. The two salads and pita were so filling that one main was sufficient for two of us.

The main courses on the menu are kebaps and stews, in the $17-20 range. Tonight there was a special lamb stew, with ground lamb meatballs. Again, intense and delicious flavors. It came with a seasoned white rice that was one of the best pilafs I can remember in a long time. Simply seasoned, yet I could have had a bowl of it plain and been happy. Mains also come with a generous (albeit boringly dressed, compared to the other dishes) green salad.

Many wines are available by the glass, starting with some decent $6 and $7 Yakima wines. With two appetizers, pita, lamb stew, rice, salad, and two glasses of house wine, the total before t&t was under $60. If we had ordered only one appetizer but a second main, it would have been $10 more and we would have had a doggie bag.

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  1. Thanks for the report. Has anyone tried their new restaurant in the old Karam's space on 15th? From their on-line menu (for the Ravenna location) I thought their prices seemed a bit high, but it sounds like their portion size explains that.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jeri L

      We finally tried the location on 15th tonight. The food was delicious, but the kitchen was glacially slow, even though the restaurant was nearly empty. Ony one waiter, but there weren't enough patrons to need another. We ordered the kibbeh appetizer, which was wonderful, but the couple who came in after us were told they were out when they tried to order them. I expect they don't make too many if business is slow, so they don't have to waste them. The menu doesn't list any beverages, perhaps because they're still waiting on a liquor license. No desserts listed either. The pastas listed on the website menu (for the Ravenna location, presumably) are also absent. I think they'd do better business if they could drop their prices a buck or two, particularly on the lunch menu. There are too many other good options nearby that give more for less with better service. Pity, because the food is really good.

      1. re: Jeri L

        For delicious - and more affordable - Lebanese fare, check out Cafe Munir in the Crown Hill section of Ballard. Their chickpea appetizer (mezze) and chicken kebabs with garlic sauce are standouts. They also have a whiskey bar, and the whiskey sour I had there was the best I have ever tasted.

          1. re: LemonyRoux

            Lebanese food AND a good whiskey sour? I'm there!

          2. re: Jeri L

            We have eaten at the place in Ravenna twice. The first time we had these stunningly good kabobs after a 1+ hour wait, during which we nearly got up and walked out (this was when they first opened). The second time we went back with a few friends and the service was much better, though still slowish. But the food was wonderful! The lamb kabobs and rice were honestly spectacular. I can't quite figure out the deal here.....the kitchen is slow but the food is unbelievable. Anyone have any insight?