Just down the street from Noon-O-Kabob is a Lebanese place that deserves attention: Al-Khaymeih at 4742 N. Kedzie. I'll admit I never really noticed it until the Reader mentioned it a few weeks ago, but now I know -- it's well worth a visit. My meal was just excellent from start to finish.
The menu is very small, admittedly, but everything we tried was better than we expected. First came the baba ganoush, which was very lemony-sour and served with a sprinkling of sumac and fresh, warm pita bread. Then came the complimentary hummus: smooth and pleasingly hot from the sprinkling of red pepper on top. Also served with each meal is a wonderful plate of pickled turnips and buttery, lemon-marinated olives. Very nice.
For entrees, we tried the chicken shawerma, which was juicy and delicious and served with a huge pillow of saffron-topped rice, Jerusalem salad and a homemade garlic spread. Even better was the kibbe: a egg-shaped croquette of ground lamb, beef and bulgur, moist inside and crispy outside, also served with salad and saffron rice and rich creamy yogurt.
The service was excellent, and the owner came to check on us several times. Every dish was delicious and well-prepared. The space is quite pleasant and BYO-friendly.
The tepid Laura Levy Shatkin review that currently appears in the Reader listings ("This Middle Eastern restaurant calls itself a fine-dining destination, but in ambience it's more like a fast-food joint ...." is just plain wrong-headed (and, as usual, doesn't mention how anything TASTES). Al-Khaymeih is far less "fast-foody" than City Noor down the street, and it doesn't serve Americanized fast-food stuff either.
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