Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
You may think that Byblos is a Greek restaurant, but it is in fact Lebanese, taking its name from a city in Lebanon that is a popular tourist destination. This place, opened in the Flatiron district in 2012 by Executive Chef Sabeh and his wife Sonia Kachouh is an offshoot of their original restaurant opened in 1990 in Murray Hill, but unfortunately destroyed by a fire years later.
You might not be astonished by the decor that is fairly simple, but Byblos is all about food and the atmosphere that Sonia and Sabeh created: casual and warm. In fact, you may even see Sabeh sit at the table with regulars or making sure that the patrons enjoy their meal and have everything they need.
At the entrance is the marble and cherry wood and marble bar and then, in the back, is the large dining room that accommodates 90 diners and more if rearranged, the tables having enough space between them.
Menu wise, it was a feast and Sonia and Sabeh made sure we would have a memorable experience. As we sat, they first brought us some a platter with pickled turnip, carrots, peppers and radicchio.
Then, we started the meal with Tabboule. It is different from most of the Tabboule you see, as not made with couscous, but bulgur as well as parsley, tomato, onion in lemon and olive oil dressing.
This was a very refreshing dish, even better with arak, an anise alcohol very similar to the French anisette, that they poured similar to the way I have seen mint tea being poured.
Then came the appetizers that we all tried to photograph, more or less at the same time, but still with courtesy, all of us making sure that we would not start eating unless everybody took photos.
Hummus with meat (with seasoned ground lamb and pine nuts):
Baba Ghannouj (deliciously smokey):
Zaatar pies (thyme, sesame, olive oil and sumac, baked on homemade pita):
Vegetarian grape leaves:
Muhammara (spicy red pepper dip mixed with rice and chick peas):
This one, I cannot remember the name, but it was beans cooked with olive oil and garlic. Sonia explained at that point that lots of Middle Eastern dishes are close, but prepared slightly differently. She mentioned for instance that this dish was cooked with cumin in Syria, but not in Lebanon.
Batata Harra (potatoes with chopped cilantro, garlic and pepper):
Kibbee Krass (ground lamb and bulgur):
Cheese Rikakat (phyllo pastry filled with haloumi cheese):
Loubie Bil Zeit (string beans with tomato, garlic, onion and olive oil):
Fattoush salad, made with mixed greens and eaten with their homemade pita:
So, I mentioned few times their homemade pita: I mean, it is a must have and I had to restrain myself from eating the whole basket.
To accompany the appetizers, I had a glass of Lebanese white wine, a Massaya 2014 (70% of Byblos wine list is Lebanese wine):
You would think that the meal ended there, but no, we had yet to try the entrées as well as one more appetizer (I should have worn my stretch pants)...
Baked Kibbee (stuffed lamb and bulgur):
Then, our first entrée was stuffed zucchini with hot yogurt sauce (it was stuffed with rice and lamb):
Then, we had grilled striped bass (perfectly cooked I have to say):
The last one was a mixed grill composed of shish kebob (lamb), shish taouk (chicken) and kata kebob (beef). It was served with rice and peas.
With the entrées, I drank a glass of red Lebanese wine (Les Terroirs, Domaine Wardy 2012):
For desserts, we got their homemade baklava as well as a homemade Mouhalabia (milk pudding):
This ended the meal perfectly. I had such a good time at Byblos and the food was fantastic: Chef Kachouh crafted a succulent menu with flavors that will transport you miles away from the time of your dinner. This is the perfect place if you want some exotic dishes that are perfect for sharing and, if you are vegetarian, they have plenty of choices.
Enjoy (I did)!
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