Thanks to everyone for your suggestions on what to order - all five of us loved this place.
First off, I was surprised by how inviting it was after hearing descriptions stressing its primarily a take-out joint with Styrofoam plates, I wasnt expecting a tiny, clean place with shiny granite table tops and painted walls with pictures of Lebanon. We were greeted by the warm, welcoming smile of the man behind the counter (I think he said his name was Belal?) who gave us plenty of time to peruse the menu. The vegetarian in our group was delighted with all the appealing-sounding choices, as was everybody else in our group, so it took us a while to narrow the field down. In the meantime, we experienced the generosity that everyone has described when we were given a starter plate filled with pickled vegetables the turnips and another type whose name I forgot to ask (they were small, green, maybe a type of eggplant?). There were also wedges of lemon, olives, and some small, surprisingly hot pickled peppers. That kept us busy while we ordered Hummus, Moujadara (rice and lentils topped with crispy sweet onions), grape leaves, spinach pie, and lamajeun (open faced meat pies) to start. Everything was excellent as has been mentioned by other Hounds theres nothing I wouldnt order again. Before our appetizers came out, Belal also sent us over a small plate of a dish he had described earlier when we first came in, a savory, spicy mix of eggplant, pine nuts, rice, ground lamb or beef. It was so good we were going to order a full portion, but forgot. Unfortunately, I cant remember the Lebanese name of the dish, but it was one of my favorites.
Entrees were all winners also I had the famous okra and lamb stew that Hounds have mentioned, others ordered the falafel plate, kibby, both a plate and one of the individual football-shaped balls, and lamb kabobs. I love kibbe, and both of the presentations were delicious and not dry as it can sometimes be. The char on the kabobs was perfect, I never order kabobs, but I thought these were outstanding. We finished up with baklava and rice pudding with rosewater, which EVERYONE loved, including Ernesto who doesnt usually like rice pudding. The Baklava was as good as has been mentioned some liked the fingers better and some liked the pistachio diamonds better - and won over two of our party who dont like the sweeter, honey-drenched Greek Baklava. Four of us bought extras to take home.
I also want to mention again how friendly and hospitable the Monzer family is. Mama shyly came out of the kitchen twice so we could thank her and say delicious! in our newly-learned Lebanese. During the meal, she sent up another kibby ball because she thought she might have overcooked the first one! She also sent us some Lebanese tea to end our meal steaming hot and served in demitasse-sized glasses. What a nice finish to a wonderful feast.
So, we all thought this place was wonderful. We were there for more than two hours, and in that time only 3 or 4 people came in for take-out sandwiches, which was a shame for a Saturday night where mama was hard at work in the downstairs kitchen. So, what are you waiting for? Get to Reef Café and bring all your friends. : )
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