Friday, February 25, 2011

Karam Lebanese

A while ago, Dave and I decided to do something outside the box for dinner, so we decided to try Lebanese food. We went to Karam Lebanese in downtown Portland. My past experience of Middle Eastern food was pretty much limited to Americanized hummus and a couple of fantastic experiences tasting the home-cooking of an Iraqi neighbor at a neighborhood picnic. (Seriously, best. tabbouleh.ever! And her hummus... so good! Don't get me started.)

We ordered Meat Mazzawat and a braised lamb shank, although if we'd had any idea how enormous the Meat Mazzawat was going to be we would have just ordered that. For $21.95, the Meat Mazzawat gives you a huge assortment of Lebanese dishes: Tabouleh (a salad made of bulgur, parsley, mint, tomato and onion), Hummus (chickpea dip), Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), Babba Ghanoush (a dip similar to hummus but made with eggplant), Falafel (fried chickpea balls), Kafta Kebab (think Lebanese meat-loaf-on-a-stick), Veggie Kibbee Nayee, Labne (cream cheese/yogurt dip), Baleela (a chickpea dish), Lamb Shawarma and Chicken Shawarma. All of this and it came with a salad and unlimited fresh-baked pita bread. Dave and I could have easily split just this and had plenty to eat. The lamb shank was lovely too, but whoa, it was a lot of food.
Chicken and Lamb Shawarma

Meat Mazzawat- quite a spread!
Meat Mazzawat

The chicken and lamb shawarma were delicious and the fresh pita bread was addicting. I wasn't a huge fan of the dolmas (but I don't tend to be in general) and the veggie kibbee nayeh was a bit grainy for my taste, but for the most part it was all delicious. My favorite thing was a toss-up between the Baba Ghanoush (the roasted eggplant dip) and the Labne (the cream cheese/yogurty dip-- it's the white stuff with the olives to the left of the big meat dish). But honestly, there were so many dishes that it was hard to remember which was which. The lamb shank was fall-off-the-bone tender and delicately flavored, but by the time it (the main course) came out we were pretty much already completely full. It was a delicious meal (and the Meat Mazzawat was a fantastic deal). When you top it off with a complimentary slice of perfectly crisp but not-too-sweet Baklava, what more do need?

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