We've been meaning to try Mandaloun for a long time. Last night we went there at the last minute and were really pleased.
We called for directions and the fellow who answered the phone, "Ed, like the horse" he said, was reassuringly warm and gracious. He said that it was fine if we were wearing shorts, and didn't balk at our request to store a half-gallon of ice cream for us while we ate (yeah, we decided at the last minute, okay?).
We came up the wrong elevator and landed in a storage area instead of the front of the restaurant, and again they were gracious and had no problem leading us out into the dining room. At some point during our meal Ed Like The Horse sought us out to make sure that our ice cream needs had been handled. What great service.
We ordered hommous, mouhammara and fatoush salad to start. You know I had no idea that there was so much wiggle room in the whole hommous thing. Seems like hommous doesn't vary all that much, but this was really great: ultra creamy, ultra flavorful and brightly flavored with whole garbanzos, lemon, oil and parsley for garnish. The freshly made pita (made in a pizza oven to order!) was especially flavorful with a nice yeastiness and that nice texture that only fresh breads have - a little crunchy on the edge and soft immediately underneath. Wow.
The mouhammara (walnuts, red pepper paste, pomegranate) was thicker and stronger in flavor than I've had before but altogether very good. I'd probably choose a different spread next time but no complaints.
The fatoush was nice, with a wilted quality that really suits this type of salad. Lemon and Olive olive oil with romaine, cucumbers, radishes, scallions and pita chips.
My husband ordered Ouzi, which turned out to be a b'stilla-like dish of lamb and rice in phyllo pastry. It's served with a dish of nice plain yoghurt, which is necessary with each forkful as the dish itself is rather dry. The flavor is lovely with a delicate spice.
I guessed that my lamb chops would be good as the waitress gave me a conspiratorial nod as I ordered them. Did I pass some special test by asking for them? I dunno but she sure looked at like I was a member of some elite chop club.
Anyway, they were the best I've had in a long time: rather thin, and apparently marinated for a while. Oh so tender and juicy (I ordered them rare) and just bursting with lamb flavor. The marinade seemed to break down the structure a bit, and I am a fan of the "chew," but I will take a softened structure in favor of that flavor anytime.
We skipped dessert and coffee, knowing that our ice cream was waiting for us in the freezer. A terrific meal and a happy experience. Thanks, Mr. Ed!