I picked up the Daily News on Friday and flipped through to the usual reviews in the weekend ("U") section. Imagine my surprise that they had reviewed one of my favourite restaurants, Skaf's Grill.
The synopsis was that it's totally a local's hangout and probably not worth the trip from Northridge if you're not really into Lebanese food. The service was just OK (2 stars out of 4) and the food and value were good (3 stars out of 4).
I'll admit that if what you want is kabobs and long-grain rice, you're probably better off going to a Persian restaurant. But the reviewer didn't get the daily special, which is what sets Skaf's apart. Now I am a Chowhound, which means I wouldn't frequent a place unless it was really good... and I have been eating there between once and four times a week for the last three years. (Disclaimer: YMMV. I just love Lebanese food.)
Each day, Salim makes one or sometimes two specials. Some days it's kefta (Lebanese meatloaf), sometimes it's kibbeh balls, sometimes lemon chicken, sometimes eggplants stuffed with meat and pine nuts. They're never more than $8, and they come with salad, hummus, pita, rice, and pickles. It is an astounding amount of food and never once - not in the three years I've been going there a few times a week and getting the special 19 times out of 20 - has there been a bad special.
I'll concur about the service - it's slow when they're busy. True connoisseurs call up, find out the special, and place their order before leaving for the restaurant. That way it'll be waiting for them when they get there.
I've noticed a marked upswing in the number of people who eat there lately - I'm not sure if they're Chowhounds (I have posted about this place before), or if the word has just got out.
My other rant about the review was that it didn't describe the food. He didn't mention the salad, he barely talked about the hummus, hardly any description save for a terse approval of the kabobs he ate.
I think if Salim hires a person or two to help, it'll be back to the same level of service it started at.
I highly recommend it... never mind the review, go try it. After you've been there two or three times you'll notice that they know who you are. And get the special.
6010 (?) Laurel Canyon Blvd., corner of Oxnard, same plaza as 7-11, open 11am-9pm (I think) daily.
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