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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tanoreen (3 of 12)

Earlier this month, we went to visit Tanoreen – a famous Middle Eastern restaurant. I’ve wanted to eat at Tanoreen for at least 5 years. I heard and read over and over again about the high-quality food.

This time, SOS and I took some friends, Dance & Stretch. They’re a great couple to eat – open-minded and interested.

The place is “nice for ethnic” but not designed to impress. It didn’t seem to matter as the restaurant was absolutely full by 7:15.

We decided to order four appetizers and two entrees. It was plenty of food; slightly too much. To start, the accompanying pita and lavash were tremendous and plentiful. Unlike a lot of pita, the pita was soft, pliant, & slightly salty. The lavash was crisp and coated in sumac (I believe) – delicious as well.

Of the appetizers, I preferred this never-before-seen dish – Armenian dried beef. It was slices of dried beef (akin to jerky), covered in a slightly sour tomato sauce. The meat had a pleasing chew. The sauce, the beef, and some pita – it was excellent. Dance enjoyed this pickled cauliflower salad that also was fantastic. Stretch & SOS enjoyed all the appetizers.

The entrees were delightful as well. I think the baked eggplant was a bit better than the kibbie. I hadn’t tasted kibbie in a long time and was keen to order it here. They served us two thin pieces of pressed lamb/wheat germ (imagine 4x8” rectangles about 1/2” thick). Inside this sandwich, was a ground lamb filling that was succulent, lean, and fragrant. Nonetheless the pressed meat couldn’t stop us from thinking of Pennsylvania scrapple.

The baked eggplant however was tremendous. It combined eggplant, lamb, and cheese in a casserole like setting. The eggplant’s bitterness matched perfectly with the lamb’s richness. I couldn’t stop spooning more and more onto my plate (not behavior SOS typically approves of).

We ended with knafeh. It's a dessert with fresh cheese (something resembling drained ricotta) inside fried pieces of shredded phyllo soaked in rose water with pistachio essence (perhaps). I thought the cheese wasn’t interesting but the phyllo, well – I’m still thinking about that.

4 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 beers, 1 dessert, tax, tip – all came to $140