5 years in the past, when my spouse and I moved to New Bedford, one of many first eating places I fell in love with — and I’m positive I wasn’t alone on this — was the Lebanese Kitchen, then situated on Buy Road on the nook of Clasky Widespread.
We lived in a quiet neighborhood off of Parker Road, and the Lebanese Kitchen served as an oasis in one of many metropolis’s meals deserts, the place it was one of many few walkable spots.
Then in June 2014, a devastating fireplace destroyed the constructing and shuttered the Lebanese Kitchen, which had opened in 1982. Instantly, there have been intentions to open once more quickly, however due a collection of points that don’t want rehashing right here, ‘quickly’ morphed into 4 years.
Lastly, in June 2018, the Lebanese Kitchen, owned by Nabih and Nohad Moujabber and managed by their oldest son, Gary Moujabber, opened its doorways once more with a quiet relaunch in what was the Mattapoisett Chowder Home — which itself closed the doorways in July 2014 after 35 years in enterprise — a large improve in measurement from 45 seats to 210.
On a latest quiet Sunday round midday, my spouse and 1-year-old son joined me in a triumphant return. Now missing its earlier a hole-in-the-wall, hidden-gem sort environment, I needed to see if it was nonetheless providing up the identical contemporary, family-recipe Lebanese specialties.
For essentially the most half — with one notable exception — the meals lived as much as my reminiscence, which may develop dangerously rosy with time. The hummus stays the very best I’ve had within the space.
Inside, the renovated restaurant options a big lobby, two foremost eating rooms and a big bar space surrounded by high-tops. I used to be by no means in it because the Chowder Home, so I can’t examine, however the grey tile flooring, uncovered brick partitions and tall wood wainscotting gave me the texture of a kind of eating places/banquet areas hooked up to a lodge. That stated, it’s definitely an improve over the carpeted, dingy outdated eating room in New Bedford.
The menu has expanded, because of the brick oven that continues to be, so that they now supply Mediterranean pizzas, as well as just a few Portuguese and Italian dishes.
The prolonged appetizer menu options conventional Center Jap staples like Baba Ghannouj (smoked eggplant blended with sesame paste, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil for $8.99), Mjadra (lentil beans, rice, onions, olive oil and spices for $7.99) and likewise some native specialties like shrimp mozambique ($12.99), littlenecks (sauteed with sliced candy peppers, onions and garlic in a spicy saffron broth for $13.99) and calamari ($12.99).
After ordering a water and a Weight-reduction plan Coke ($2.75), we went chosen the falafel ($7.99) for an appetizer. Our fantastic waiter, Nick, was fast to supply a heat mug of water to heat up Cooper’s lunchtime bottle. All afternoon he was attentive, informative and pleasant, offering us a few of the finest service we’ve loved throughout a Dine Out.
For the uninitiated — as my spouse was till lately — falafel is made with chick peas, fava beans, different greens and spices and deep fried. It quickly arrived with a aspect of pita bread, however that is the place the meal didn’t get off to a terrific begin. As a substitute of full patties or balls, the falafel was crumbled, virtually like sausage, on a plate heavy with shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, parsley and a beneficiant serving to of tahini sauce, which is made with sesame paste.
The sauce was nice, however the falafel itself was dry and crumbly. You could possibly decide up some notes of cilantro, garlic and onion, but when I’m being completely sincere, it tasted day-old, as did the pita bread.
Fortunately, the remainder of the meal improved immensely from there.
The massive menu options a number of salads, a half-dozen kebabs (served in lunch or dinner sizes), seafood (fried and baked), pasta and pita pocket roll ups.
I instantly went to my common order from the New Bedford location: the rooster shawarma combo ($13.99, it additionally will be ordered with beef) with hummus and Fattoush, a Center Jap salad with cucumbers, crispy pita chips and a light-weight, tart citrus French dressing. Different aspect choices embody tabbouli (a bulgar wheat salad), rice, fries or baba ghannouj.
The shawarma lived as much as my rosy reminiscences, flavorful with that superior mixture of brightness and lightness. The nice and cozy, marinated rooster is served with cooked onions, uncooked tomato and lettuce and topped with the tahini sauce. The rooster was moist and flavorful, and the temperature variations between the chilly veggies and heat rooster is what has at all times drawn me to the dish. The hummus, gentle and fluffy with distinct notes of lemon and garlic, and the crisp, crunchy, acidic salad made for excellent enhances.
My spouse went for the lunch order of steak ideas ($12.99) which got here with fries and a daily aspect salad. The marinated steaks ideas got here out medium, simply as she ordered, and whereas not an enormous Center Jap meals fan — I’ve been making an attempt fruitlessly to transform her for awhile — she liked the marinate on the the lean steak ideas, in addition to the outsized, fluffy french fries.
We ordered Cooper a aspect dish of rooster kabob ($7.99), which got here with grilled onions, peppers and tomatoes. He appeared to take pleasure in it, as he evidenced by how a lot he devoured, when he wasn’t busy downing pita bread (I ought to observe the standard of the pita bread diversified; what got here out with the falafel was stale and virtually crusty, however what got here out with our entrees was contemporary and pliable).
We have been too full for dessert, and we ended up dumping all our leftovers — kabob, shawarma, hummus, falafel and salad — into one massive to-go container, which later turned one in every of my favourite leftover meals in latest reminiscence.
Our lunch got here to $48.57, together with tax and earlier than tip. On one hand, it was a combined bag because of the underwhelming falafel and first basket of pita bread, however on the opposite the scrumptious entrees supplied the intense, vibrant flavors of Center Jap delicacies. It might be for takeout, however I’ll be again for extra of that shawarma and hummus.