As conflicts in the Middle East escalate, I find peace in eating at Beirut Grill. Located in the corner of a strip mall, the restaurant does a robust weekday business due to the plethora of medical buildings in the area, but it was nearly empty when I visited on a Saturday night—a prime opportunity for a singular dining experience. The atmosphere was simple and clean, the staff sweet and appreciative, and the food truly wondrous.
The temptation was to make a meal of the appetizers. Stuffing vegetable leaves or vines is common in many cuisines, and certainly Middle Eastern.
The Grape Leaves were delicious, but the Cabbage Leaves were flat-out awesome—stuffed with rice, ground meat, lots of garlic and some flair from herbs and allspice. The Tabouleh was a magical combination of nutty bulgur mixed with tomatoes and green onions with lots of fresh parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and salt—one of those dishes that, for a fleeting moment, had me thinking I could be a vegetarian. Baba Ghanoush was redolent with roasted eggplant, and the Homos (Beirut’s alternative spelling of hummus) was smooth and creamy—cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with garlic, tahini, garlic, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.
All arrived with warm pita, and I slathered on the dips. Pita is actually a very straightforward bread dough: water, flour, yeast, salt. When heat hits the water and yeast, the former turns to steam and the latter becomes hyperactive, a dual action that forces the thin-rolled dough to separate and puff. How they make the pita bread so remarkably thin and pillowy at Beirut Grill is a marvel. Rolling the dough to a wisp? Using a higher-temperature oven? Letting the dough stand? Can’t talk, eating…
All of the entrees were hot and fresh, served up in generous portions. Loved the Chicken Schwarma, tender bits of skewered chicken broiled on rotisserie and thinly sliced. The juicy Lamb Shank was one of the tastiest dishes, having stood up to long braising until it was “fall off the bone” soft, served with saffron rice and vegetables for an incredible and exotic blend of flavors.
But if you believe, as I do, that quantity is quality, go big with the Vegetarian Combo (falafel, homos, baba ghanouj, tabouleh, fatoush salad, grape leaves and rice) or the Meat Combo (chicken, kafta, lamb and beef kebabs and schwarma, plus homos, rice, salad, cucumber, yogurt sauces and pitas). Or the King Combo—a combination of both veggie and meat combos. Had I polished it off alone, though, the coroner would have ruled it a homos side.
203 W. Hampden Ave.; 303-781-0808