I was going to wait to try this place out with a co-worker (two people ordering, more stuff to taste), but I couldn't stand it anymore. Walked over there a little while ago and got lunch to take back to my desk. On RGR's advice, I got the cold combination plate. Good choice. The dish includes (bear in mind that this is the spelling from their menu): "homus, baba ghannouj, tabboule, falafel, cheese & olives." Portions of the first three are quite generous and very tasty, two pieces of falafel, two small slices of excellent white cheese (can't identify it - not feta) and, instead of olives, two briny stuffed grape leaves, as well as two halved pita breads. They also gave me a side salad with a nice, light vinaigrette, as well as a little relish plate(carrots, radishes, peppers and - I think - pickled turnips) and a few small pastries (one piece of "baklawa" and two of something I've never had, but must be "kanafy). All of this cost $13.50 plus tax and it's really enough for two - possibly with the addition of another couple of pieces of falafel. (An appetizer portion of falafel is $5.50).
My favorite thing on the plate is the tabboule - green chopped herbs with bits of tomato and onion, tossed in a wonderfully lemony dressing. The flavor is just bright and lively - I don't know how else to describe it. The homus and baba ghannouj are also quite good. I could live without the little grape leaves - a bit too vinegary for my taste. I'll probably pass on the desserts, as I'm allergic to cinnamon and I don't know what's inside these. Actually, I can't smell any cinnamon in them - what I do smell is butter - wonderful, rich, fattening butter. Okay - pass.
Anyway, I'm glad to know this place is so close to my office. I have a feeling I'll be visiting every so often. It's a little more than I would usually spend on lunch, but good for an occasional treat.
Byblos - 200 E 39th St. (just west of 3rd Ave, on the south side of the street) - 212-687-0808
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