Seattle / Mamnoon: middle-eastern crossroad
In an industrial setting of concrete floors, iron elements in the ceiling mixed to red bricks and wood, Lebanon and Syria meet in the geometrical elements of the tiles, the warmth of the pita oven and the hospitality of the staff.
Middle eastern dishes are served in the popular mezze portion (small plates) or in a shorter selection of entrees, accompanied by finely crafted cocktails ranging from classics-variations - e.g. the modern era: barrel aged gin with cynar, blanc vermouth and orange bitters – to Mexican-inspired drinks, tequila or mezcal based, mixed with French charteuse or other spirits.
Probably because of my love for mezcal or the home-feeling combination of mediterranean ingredients and spices, I find the mix of flavors a great pairing.
The best way to start the meal is ordering muhammara, one of my favorite spread that plays with the alternation of sweet and sour flavors – and a lightly spicy note – with its mix of peppers, walnuts, cumin, garlic and pomegranate molasses. Perfect to spread on za'atar wi zeit, the baked-to-order pita prepared with thyme and olive oil.
Another great Lebanese mezze is the fried cauliflower “arnabeit makli”, first boiled and then deep fried (including its stalk) and topped with tarrator sauce and parsley. Few drops of lemon juice on top will make the dish even more balanced and ‘easier’ to eat.
As it often happens better the mezze than the entrees with the Syrian kefta, the typical halal minced mix of beef and lamb, a bit overwhelming in pistachio and cumin taste and not particularly attractive in its plating.
Probably just a comment driven by personal taste as the overall experience is absolutely worth the visit to one of the best addresses of Capitol Hill.