Keeping with my mission of trying diverse cuisines from around the globe, this afternoon, my wife, my in-laws & myself went for lunch at Rose’s Place (32-01 Broadway) in Fair Lawn, NJ. The first thing I noticed when entering the restaurant (and what made me happy) was the sound of Arabic music playing. I always love entering an ethnic restaurant and hearing the music of that culture. It’s one of my pet peeves.
We were greeted by a friendly waiter (unfortunately, he was not Lebanese, another one of my pet peeves. I let it slide a bit if the food is good, which we’ll get to in a bit.). He led us to a table and gave us our menus. The menu looked great. It reminded of the menu at Toros (an awesome Turkish Restaurant on Main Street in Paterson).
The waiter brought a plate of thinly sliced pickles, beets and marinated hot peppers. He also brought a basket with a bag of warm pitas (my biggest disappointment of the meal). The waiter asked us if we were ready to order, which we were.
We ordered a few appetizers for the table. They included Makanik (Lebanese Sausage), Borak (filo dough filled with Spinach & Cheese), Fried White Cheese and Snails with Garlic & Cilantro. For our main course, my wife ordered Terbiali Kabob (Spicy Lamb). My mother-in-law ordered Lamb Chops Platter. My father-in-law ordered the Shawerma Platter. And I ordered the Mixed Grilled Combination (Lamb Kufta Kabob, Chicken Shish Tawook and Beef Shish Kabob).
The appetizers started to come out after 10 minutes or so. The Lebanese sausages were great. They had a reddish/purplish color. They tasted of cumin and sumac, two great and underutilized spices. There were also stuffed with pignoli nuts. These sausages were small and I probably could have kept on eating them.
I have had Borak before (actually at Toros). Borak are fried filo dough rolls filled with spinach and cheese. They had a crunchy, golden exterior with a warm oozing center. These too were quite addicting.
I love fried white cheese. This reminded me of saganaki, which is a Greek pan fried cheese, such as halloumi. This cheese fries in its brine, which gives it a golden brown exterior. The cheese was also served with slices of lemon. The cheese tasted fresh, salty and lemony; three great flavors.
The snails with garlic and cilantro were awesome. I’m a big snail fan. These snails were nice and tender. And the cilantro and garlic were unexpected and pleasant flavors. This dish was a great choice.
Our main courses were brought out about 10 minutes after our last appetizer plate was cleared. This was plenty of time to digest and make some small talk. All main courses were served with Lebanese rice and broiled tomatoes.
My wife’s Terbiali Kabob, which is a spicy lamb, was really good. The lamb was cooked to a nice medium rare. It was spicy for my wife, but not so spicy for me. I always say, spicy is a relative! Everyone feels heat differently. It also had a subtle smoky flavor. I would definitely order this the next time I visit.
My mother-in-law’s Lamb Chops Platter was just that, a platter with four lamb chops. She ordered her lamb rare, which is how it came out. I didn’t sample them so I can only give you my opinion on what I saw. It looked good, but a little boring. I love shawerma! And after my father-in-law ate his Shawerma Platter, he too was a convert. I did not sample his dish.
There’s nothing like a mixed grill because you get to sample a few meats instead of just one. My Mixed Grilled Combination (Lamb Kufta Kabob, Chicken Shish Tawook and Beef Shish Kabob) was great. I love kufta. They are a combination of a small meatloaf and large meatball. I actually make these pretty darn good. These particular kufta were nicely seasoned. The chicken shish tawook was great. It was moist and loaded with spices. The beef shish kebobs were good, but two of the four pieces were a little tough. They were seasoned nicely. Overall, this was a great dish and one I would recommend to a person who is first being introduced to the cuisine of Lebanon.
By the end of the meal we were too full for dessert. However, we did have room for an Arabic coffee. Now, being of Italian descent, I grew up drinking espresso or black coffee. When the demitasse cup was brought to the table I was expecting it to be just like espresso, but I was wrong. I added two sugar packets like I usually do for espresso. After stirring the coffee, I tasted the spoon and was pleasantly surprised at what I was experiencing. I got a subtle hint of sweet and spicy. You could definitely taste the cardamom in coffee. This coffee was a real eye opener and a perfect ending to a most enjoyable meal with my family. Get out there and keep on trying the cuisines of different cultures. I am. And I love every minute of it. Who knows what I’ll try next. Enjoy!
Living to eat,