This is the type of restaurant that proves there is a God. A God that appreciates great grub prepared with lots of love, served up by friendly, knowledgeable folks, all at extremely reasonable prices. A God that loves Lebanese food.
The big news on this visit was the "bizri", or fried sardine mezze. This has to be one of the most elusive things on the menu here at Marouch. On my ten or so visits, they have NEVER had them. Always on the menu, never actually in the kitchen. Maddening. They might as well offer Jimmy Hoffa or JD Salinger as appetizers.
So, with a deep, resigned sigh, and a faint glimmer of hope in her deep, almond eyes, the fish-loving mrs rabo asks once again, " I don't suppose you have the sardines today?". The waiter offers his stock response, "Let me check with the chef". He does so, and mrs rabo and I decide on back up choices.
When the waiter emerges from the kitchen with thumbs up, mrs rabo and I exhange looks of disbelief, and give each other a loud high-five.
What finally emerges does not disappoint. A large basketful of whole sardines, dredged in flour and deep-fried, served with lemon wedges. Sounds like no big deal, but never judge a mezze by its cover. We give the suckers a lemon bath and devour. Each crunchy bite is a citrus-y, slightly salty, piscine assault on your taste buds. You eat one, pick up another. It stares defiantly at you. You joyfully bite its head off. Like Ruffles, hard to eat just one. Or ten.
The smoky m'tabal, the sour, funky "foul madamas" (a super-garlicky, lemony, fava bean stew) and the platter of various grilled meats we also order are all excellent as usual.
But we will dream about those little fishies. And pray to that food-loving God for some consistent availability.
Marouch Lebanese Restaurant
4905 Santa Monica Blvd (btw Vermont and Normandie---parking is a serious bitch)
Los Angeles, CA 90029