I was in town for a weekend and in the mood for Lebanese food (a rarity for me)...not far from the Taverna, which I like, but I wanted to try something new. I saw that Tyler Cowen had added a Lebanese joint to his "must try" list with the following description:
"Lebanese Restaurant and Market, Hillwood and Rt.29, Falls Church, usually open.
"Superb mom and pop Lebanese place, maybe the best Lebanese place up and running right now. Everything here tastes like real food, unlike so much of what you eat in this country."
Even though I have been disappointed with a couple of his recommendations recently, I figured this was worth a try...so I grabbed a couple of friends (a highly adventurous friend and his fairly picky spouse) and headed off. The first challenge was finding the place, even though it is not far from where I was staying. Tyler's info is a bit misleading...eventually we found it. Here's the correct information for you:
Lebanese Butcher & Restaurant, 109 East Annandale Rd (At the corner of Lee Hwy/Rt29 Annandale), 703-241-2012. Open til 9 pm daily.
Once we got there, our experience was highly positive, particularly the food and service. The place was tiny, and essentially empty, when we arrived at 7:30 or so on a Saturday night. The host/waiter seemed surprised to see us in there, and immediately said "we are not a fancy restaurant but we have the best food." This is of course is exactly what we wanted from our dining experience, so he had no need to apologize.
We ordered fairly standard fare for appetizers...hommos, tabuleh, and kibbeh. The kibbeh was different than I was used to but very good and a nice big portion. It frightened our third diner. The hommos and tabuleh were good...nothing extraordinary about them but what could be?
Though we all have our favorite standbys, we had struck up a good conversation with the host and asked for his recommendations on entrees. Without hesitation he suggested the Lamb Ouzi...unfortunately one of our group was not a lamb eater, and we were already set on another lamb/beef dish, so we got Chicken Ouzi instead to accomodate her. The ost seemed disappointed...so much so that he brought us a free platter of Lamb Ouzi on the house, saying that he didn't want us to try his restaurant and not have the best. I have to say he was probably right. The flavor of the dish far surpassed what would be expected from the description (Yogurt with cucumber & mints, salad, rice). If you go, the Lamb Ouzi is a must. The portions were ample and my leftovers fed me most of the next day. The chicken ouzi was good, but not nearly as good as the lamb. We also ordered a special of lamb and kafta skewers, not my favorite dish so I'm not the best judge, but I enjoyed it. We ordered somewhat cautiously in case we didn't like the Ouzi...I now will be comfortable being more adventurous.
I highly recommend giving this place a try if you're in the area and in the mood...I doubt you'll be disappointed.