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Mandaloun in Glendale review

Chowpatty | Oct 4, 200401:01 PM

We tried Mandaloun in Glendale Sunday night with a group of six. When I made reservations, I was assured that they did not have live entertainment on Sundays, as I thought that would make it impossible to converse. Of course they didn't note that inside, there was a huge wedding with deafening music going on, fully audible from the patio. Fortunately the music stopped while the wedding party was eating so we had several welcome breaks from Lebanese hip hop.

Anyway, we were able to sample quite a few of their meze (appetizer plates), although we ordered very lightly, and I would have liked to try several others. We had hummus with an unusual beef and pine nut topping which was super smooth and rich; a very dense tapenade-like muhammara with a more intense flavor than usual; rich and perfectly dressed tabouli, dandelion greens with deep fried onions which were quite nice and sort of collards-y; an excellent savory lamajune (flatbread with a meat and tomato sauce); and foul, which is normally fava beans with garlic but they may have brought us chickpeas instead. We shared two main courses: chicken kebabs which were moist and succulent in a yogurt-type marinade and the only misstep of the evening, beef shwarma, which was dry and didn't have much flavor. All this was accompanied by their huge pillowly pita bread fresh from the oven. I was sorry to find out that the sajj, a nan-like bread which used to be prepared at the table, isn't available anymore.

We all had Lebanese beers and finished off the evening with a hookah of apple flavored tobacco, which even the non-smokers found smooth and tasty. The total came to a very reasonable $22 each including the $12 hookah. There was so much on the menu we didn't get to -- various cheeses and fish dishes -- and all the meze were excellent. However, I felt like we were the typical Americans who expected to eat in less than two hours, didn't drink much, didn't order coffee and dessert, etc. -- I think they expect to serve large groups of people who settle in for a long and elaborate evenings.

A more modest place like Carousel is probably better if you're looking for a quick dinner with just a few people, but if you want to really see the full range of Lebanese cooking (Lamb fries, brains and tongue included) and have a group of people and time to spare, this is a fun place to try. Definitely specify the (heated) patio, as the inside looks like it's more for banquets.


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