My husband has been going on about Kibbe Naya (raw lamb kibbe) for weeks now, and, although I have recipes, I've just been too nervous to make it for him at home. So, on Saturday afternoon we perused the menus of some more Middle Eastern restaurants, and found that Naya serves it. As does Illia (sp?), but it seemed more expensive. So, we made our way down to 55th & 2nd for an early-ish dinner, noting the gelato place next door as we went by it. The restaurant itself is unbelievable in terms of how narrow it is - a narrow aisle, with booths for two lined along on either side. The decor is very modern white and black with a little stainless steel thrown in.
We got the menu, and quickly ordered a bottle of a well-priced Lebanese white wine, and some mezze, served with pieces of thin warm pita, and Lebanese olive oil (upon request):
Kibbe Naya – raw lamb kibbe, served with chopped scallions on top.
Baba Ganouj – great smoky flavour
Hommus – very well prepared hummus, with olive oil on top.
Rkakat (fried filo dough "cigars" filled w/ three cheeses) – crispy, nicely fried, at first I thought the cheese a bit creamy for my taste, but was proven wrong when eating my second one.
Yogurt with Cucumber
Kafta Sayniye – cooked disks of ground lamb, served in a tomato sauce with chunks of onion and fabulous slices of fried potato. This was served with rice and vermicelli (together) – listed as a side dish, but we were not charged for it.
All in all – a delicious dinner. I’m no expert on Middle Eastern/Lebanese food (our pleasant Jordanian waiter told us that they consider the restaurant a Lebanese one), but my husband (1/4 Lebanese) has traveled quite a bit in the ME over the past several years and eaten in a lot of Lebanese restaurants. While he didn’t think this quite reached the level of food he’s eaten in those places, he was very pleased. The bill before tip, with a Brooklyn Lager as well, was $110, which seemed quite reasonable for the amount we ate, and the quality of same. The service was lovely, friendly, without being overly so, and I really did love the décor. There is a communal table in the back by the way that can accommodate larger parties.
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