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Restaurants & Bars

Tanoreen - terrific Palestinian place in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Reynold | Oct 1, 200609:16 PM     20

Tanoreen is located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, one block from the 77th St. station on the R line. When coming by subway from Manhattan, take the N train, which has fewer stops, and switch to the R train at 59th St. This trip can be as short as 35 minutes from Times Square with a good connection; the R train from Times Square takes nearly one hour. We had no reservation and waited nearly an hour for a table for four on a Saturday night. The place was completely full (and quite noisy) until after 10:00 PM.

Service couldn’t be more friendly and hospitable. The waitpersons are justifiably proud of the food, which is outstanding, and are pleased to explain and answer any questions.

We tried a number of appetizers. Cauliflower salad was delicious, dressed with a white tahini sauce and droplets of pomegranate syrup. Fried arba cheese (not on the menu, and not often available) was salty and very tasty, similar to halloumi cheese. Fatoush was a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, red cabbage, and feta cheese. Who would think that a salad would be the hit of the evening? It was topped lightly with oil and lemon, and blessed with an insanely good spice mixture that included red sumac. At this point we were getting the message that their cuisine emphasizes light, heathy, low-calorie dishes enlivened with inventive yet subtle spices. Sujok, billed as “Armenian dried meat,” was a spicy sautéed sausage and quite oily. This got mixed reviews; some liked it while others felt it was not particularly flavorful. Musakhan (not on the regular menu, but a special that evening), which comes in different versions, was a sort of ground-lamb and wheat mixture on pita—Palestinian pizza—topped with pine nuts and slivered almonds. It was quite good although there seemed to be a bitter undertone.

We tried two entrees. Mousaqua (listed on the menu as “baked Mediterranean eggplant”) was an eye-opener for those acquainted only with moussaka at Greek coffee shops. It had thin layers of eggplant, ground lamb, onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, and was perfumed with a light but aromatic spice mixture. This was accompanied by a thoroughly delicious side of rice with vermicelli; the latter were short and brown, apparently sautéed. We got two orders of lamb shank, braised with vegetables and as moist, tender, and flavorful as it could be.

We had a side dish of shulbato, cracked wheat with tomato sauce, chickpeas, sautéed squash, eggplant, and spices. Some of us thought it delicious, but this was not unanimous.

We had mint tea and two desserts. Knafeh was tasty and extremely sweet, with a center of baked sweet cheeses (the consistency was like mozzarella) topped with shredded filo dough, a red syrup, and crushed pistachio nuts. We finished with a small, delicious date cake.

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