First a disclaimer -- if you're looking for the correct spelling of the dishes, get yourself a dictionary.
Well, our friends picked the place, so despite some misgivings and some Chowish warnings, we emerged from behind the Orange Curtain to have dinner on Saturday at The Grapevine in LaVerne.
We ate inside since it was too cool to eat on the patio even with the heaters on. I tried to persuade my BF and the other couple to share the mezzes for four ($64 as I recall) but everyone wanted to have his or her own plate.
So we shared babaganouj (smoky, lemony, addictive) and some home-made one-bite size sausages (delicate, tasty a trifle dry). The pitas accompanying them were a big disappointment -- cold and dry.
I had the lamb shank -- nicely cooked with beans (there were a few beans clinging to it -- wonder what they do with the beans? It was served with rice, a few toasted pine nuts, grilled tomato and grilled anaheim chili. All tasty and nice. The BF had lamb shawerma which he said was good (and he's a really picky eater). The husband of the other couple also had lamb shanks but he ordered his with the mashed potatoes. This guy is the poster child for potatoes and he said these were good. The wife had a lemony grilled chicken dish -- all white meat -- and she said it was good, too. Lemon juice is big in this kitchen. NOTE to self: In future pick dining companions who are more likely to share tastes from their plates!
Desserts were nothing to write home about. I had two postage-stamp pieces of baklava which looked identical, but the syrups they'd been soaked in had very different flavors. The other couple shared a piece of ordinary-looking and tasting restaurant cheesecake which was obviously not made in-house.
The total bill for four, including a couple rounds of beer/wine was $110 including tip.
The service was very slow and we had to ask the waiter for dessert and the bill. However his assistant was fairly attentive so we got our food promptly and our water refilled at intervals.
We would go back, especially if we were in the area.
One thing we commented on was the Grapevine's self-description as "Mediterranean". To us that implied a more varied menu that might have included Greek, No. Aftican, Italian and Spanish food. However the Grapevine seems to be focused solely on Lebanese food and the menu included the names of the dishes in what I think was Lebanese. I've seen this phenomenon before and wonder about it. Do Lebanese or Syrian or Armenian or Turkish restauranteurs fear Americans won't patronize a more specifically-labeled Middle-Eastern restaurant? Yet we flock to "Persian" restaurants. Hmm, I guess "Iranian" would be unattractive, too? Interesting . . .
1204 Foothill Blvd.