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Jan 5, 2013 09:20 PM


Breezed past here with a porchetta from Rain Shadow underarm this afternoon...

Maitre 'd' invited me in for a look. Menu was fascinating--Syrian, Lebanese and Persian dishes. Decor was *interestingly polished*. Looks like fine dining--with takeout window. Yelp has it about 75% 5-star.

Who has been, and opinions?


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  1. I had the lamb mana'eesh off the to go menu for lunch last week and it was delicious. Very promising.

    1. I'll be in town in a couple of weeks. Want to grab lunch there? I'm pretty sure it's my turn to treat!

      1 Reply
      1. re: alarash

        I'm there, Brah. You have my number...

      2. Yelp complaints were about value for quantity vs. quality. Thoughts?

        1 Reply
        1. re: amybobamy

          Yelp should be ignored... Mamnoon was fantastic and well worth the price.

        2. I stopped by in late December and got some za'atar mana'eesh, baba ghanoush, and labneh to go (along with some oysters from Taylor to round out the meal). I loved the mana'eesh, was happily surprised by the thick layer of green stuff, delish. Baba and yogurt very good as well, but the eggplant was a bit stringy. They gave me 2 pitas to go with the 2 mezze, which would not have been nearly enough if I hadn't had the mana'eesh.

          I liked the look of the room (a new take on subway tile!) and want to go have dinner and watch baker boys make pita all night.

          1. Went for dinner last night. Easily the best middle eastern food in SEA. We had mana'eesh with cheese, fried cauliflower, batteresh, okra, and kefta kebab. Bread operation is dead serious there. Everything was a superlative version of whatever dishes we'd had before, or an interesting novelty to us. (Well, except for the semolina pastry dessert with chocolate and dates, which tasted like a trumped up fig newton, and didn't really work for me).

            The pricing will raise questions. The larger entrees (fish or lamb shank) are high-end level, and several similar mezze are available for less at more homley Cafe Munir in Ballard (though not as high quality). The Mamnoon space is large, modern and they play beats. For me, the extra flavors and spark and the bread make Mamnoon the winner despite higher tariffs.

            13 Replies
            1. re: equinoise

              Interestingly, I also went for dinner last night! And while I thought it was good, probably even very good, I would say that it doesn't hold a candle to Cafe Munir for best middle eastern in Seattle. Sorry. I find CM is better, cheaper, and a far more pleasant place to sit and eat a meal.

              1. re: dagoose

                We'll agree to disagree. I found Mamnoon's flavors brighter and fresher, while CM I though was more homely, in both ambiance and taste--an item or two there had a sort of warmed-over air, but can't say that was literally true. Obviously if one is annoyed by beat-driven music Mamnoon will dissapoint. But you've got to give Mamnoon an edge just for the bread, no?

                Maybe also we have geographic bias working for us in the backgroun...I live in the South so I would need more incentive to drive up to Ballard again for CM.

                1. re: equinoise

                  Of course! Always fun to agree to disagree. Definitely geographic bias--Cap Hill is a trek from Greenwood for us. I didn't mind the beats, but the space felt large an empty to us, while at the same time, felt like I was in the middle of the conversation next to us, since tables were so close.

                  Again, I really enjoyed Mamnoon, and if I lived near it, probably wouldn't trek to CM either. Falafel were good, bread was very good, though they were having trouble keeping up with pace while we were there (darling server, I'd advise you hold off on dropping that olive oil and za'atar until the bread is ready, BTW). The hummus was good, though the lamb/eggplant thing was a little off. The shish taouk was the one thing where I yearned for CM's version--more tender chicken (I actually think that is a meat quality thing), and the amazing garlic sauce.

                  A little stream o' consciousness for you on it...

                2. re: dagoose

                  Hi, dagoose:

                  Wahine and I ate at Cafe Munir last night because I remembered that you recommended the place.

                  Let me start by saying I'm not easy to impress. And then let me say this is *the* best meal I've EVER had for $50/2. The Hommus bi Lahem ou Snobar (hommus with lamb and pine nuts fried in butter) absolutely swooned us, the grilled cauli with Tahini was great, the Rikikat bi' Lahem (philo cigars stuffed with spiced lamb and pine nuts) was fantastic, and the Shish Taouk (chicken skewers roasted with garlic and lemon and served with garlic aoli) was perfection. The dessert special we chose was a dry baklava with pistacchio meat--unspeakably good and only gently sweet. All that food, two drinks, two Turkish coffees, $48.

                  I'm not posting this as its own thread because I don't want to have to wait in line. I will if I must, but since you've been there, you already know how good Cafe Munir is.

                  THANK YOU,

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Kaleo! Thank you so much for posting this! It makes me so happy to know that people have enjoyed my suggestions so much. And of course I'm glad that you now also know the magic of Cafe Munir! Happy eating.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Must get up to this place - thanks for reporting on the meal. I trust your taste, Kaleo, as we usually agree on most places.

                      Thanks for the report!

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I haven’t been to Mamnoon, but I’ll add my two cents worth about my experience at Café Munir. Overall, what I particularly liked about the food here was the fact that the spicing was in general more subdued and subtle than I’ve experienced in other Lebanese restaurants. (During the years I lived in Los Angeles, my place of work was located in an Armenian/Lebanese neighborhood with many wonderful restaurants.) Some people, like my wife for instance, may find the preparations at Café Munir “blander” than they like, but not me. For example, I thought the preparation of m’tab’bal (baba ghanoush) let the eggplant flavor sing without being overpowered, as it often is, by tahini. My wife, on the other hand, missed the more usual prominence of tahini and cumin. My wife and I also disagreed on the pastry turbans filled with spicy lamb and veggies, which I liked and my wife didn’t. But we both liked the winter greens with tomatoes and the chicken wings with a garlic sauce that was strikingly similar to the much revered garlic sauce at Zankou Chicken, one of my Los Angeles mainstays. And we both loved the Sheik Al Mahshi, eggplant stuffed with lamb in a tomato sauce. I liked the space and ambience, and thought the service was friendly and helpful, even if a little inattentive at times. Although the Ballard area is a schlep for me, since I live in the northeast corner of Seattle near Lake City (generally a culinary desert with a few exceptions), I’d happily return to Café Munir, even if it means twisting my wife’s arm a bit to do so.

                        By the way, with respect to the mention of Golden Beetle in this thread, a non-Seattle-based award-winning chef who specializes in Eastern Mediterranean-influenced cuisine, found the food at Golden Beetle “terrible.” Based on this chef’s privately expressed opinion, which I greatly respect, I’ve never been to Golden Beetle.

                        1. re: Tom Armitage

                          I've only been to Munir once. I loved it for many of the dishes Tom or others mentioned. The hummus with lamb and pine nuts fried in butter, and the "cigars" filled with lamb - both really wonderful.

                          It is exactly the same schlep for me as for Tom. However, since a good friend who lives even further away works in Ballard, it is a great place for us to meet when he gets off work..

                          1. re: Tom Armitage

                            I agree with the opinion of Golden Beetle. Group of 4 split many items on the menu and for the most part they just missed the boat.
                            To make things worse, had the hardest time getting the eye of staff to remove finished plates and in the end just started putting them under my chair. At least when I returned from washing my hands those plates were gone.
                            Never had to do that in all my years.
                            Odd experience was when the waiter told us of the "natural" practices of the restaurant and I asked him about rodent control. He said they do it humanely! I didn't ask for details.

                            1. re: JayDK

                              I really wanted to like Golden Beetle but also found it disappointing - being fairly empty during Restaurant Week (we ate off the regular menu) should have been a clue. I hate to comment on a restaurant after only one visit but unfortunately nothing enticed me to give it another try since I live on the Eastside.

                            2. re: Tom Armitage

                              Go get the whole happy hour menu, once...

                            3. re: kaleokahu

                              Just noticed this thread in looking for info on Mamnoon. Great review. I have eaten there quite a few times since they opened. The owner Rajah is also a Scotch whisky aficionado and their list features some interesting and hard to find bottlings.

                          2. re: equinoise

                            I enjoy the restaurant, but it's a stretch to call it "easily the best Middle Eastern food" in the area. Pretty sure that distinction still goes to Caspian