I had dinner at Mamlouk in Alphabet City for the first time last night. A friend whose family almost exclusively eats in Middle Eastern restaurants told me it was his favorite of all time, even among those in Israel- I had to try it.
The decor is very traditional and yet trendy without being kitchy. The only downside is the tables are low and close together- the space is limited so I would recommend reserving- there are only 2 seatings- at 7 and 9 (but they do not rush you)The menu changes daily and is prix fixe, but there is so much food I didn't care that a few things had cheese in it (which I hate).
First came a plate of pickles and crudite- it was interesting as what looked like a deli style dill pickle had the essense of fenugreek.
Next came a small bowl of excellent red lentil soup, turkish style. I came back from the restroom and the table was covered completely in small dishes of dips for (very cute) mini pitas and crisp flatbread flavored with zaatar. The hummus and baba ganoush were plain but delicious. There was a red pepper and walnut dip, an avocado salad and lebne (thick yogurt). This was followed by cheese turnovers (my pal loved it) and falafel (supurb)...these were just the appetizers.
The main dishes consisted of several vegetable stews, lamb, shrimp byrani and another lamb dish. Dessert while delicious, I think I was allergic to! (it was some type of rose water pudding). Everything was 35 per person and well worth it.