At first, I was slightly apprehensive visiting a restaurant with the word “butcher” in its title, but as soon as I walked in the door, I realized that the Lebanese Butcher and Restaurant is a cozy hideaway and a great place to eat and relax.
The venue is small, with less than two dozen sets of dark wood tables and chairs arranged neatly in the square space, filled with distinctly Middle Eastern touches, like the several hookahs placed throughout the room and four walls adorned with Arabic art and food critic award plaques.
The restaurant has been honored several times by a few area papers for its food, service and affordable prices. A massive stone fountain covers about one-third of one wall; long green vines spring from cracks in the stones as water gently travels down into a pool. The lighting is dim, but the large, bold English and Arabic menu that spans the top half of the back wall gives color and an edge to the décor.
Service is available at the counter or at your table. After sitting down, a polite server handed us colorful, bilingual menus.
The menu features Arabic appetizers, salads, entrée platters, sandwiches and desserts, along with various juices and sodas. Besides offering hummus, shawarma, falafel, shish kabobs and other distinct dishes like lamb ouzi – lamb meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, turnip pickles and tahini wrapped in pita bread – the Lebanese Butcher offers common American fare as well. The menu features hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken burgers, Philly Cheese Steaks, New York steak, hot dogs, prime rib and personal pan pizzas.
I ordered a beef and lamb shawarma sandwich, guava fruit juice to drink and a hummus with beef and lamb meat appetizer to split with my friend.
Shawarma, a popular staple across the Middle East, is typically made with a type of meat, pita bread, hummus, tomato and cucumber, sometimes tahini (a sesame paste) and amba, a mango pickle sauce found in the Middle East.
My delicious shawarma sandwich had juicy, tender slices of beef and lamb, slightly spicy tahini and turnip pickles all wrapped in soft, warm pita bread. The bread and the meat were cooked well and very delicious, and while the tahini was a bit salty, it didn’t overpower the meat or the other ingredients, and in fact, augmented the dish’s flavors.
Served in a bowl, with thick hummus around the edges and lamb slices drenched in olive oil filling out the middle, the hummus appetizer was impressively tasty. The portion was large, and my friend and I were only able to finish less than half of the dish.
The hummus had strong hints of lemon and garlic flavors, which boosted the less flavorful chick peas and the mild tang of the tahini. The olive oil moistened the small lamb slices, adding a bold taste to the sumptuous dish.
Finally, I tried the bottled guava juice for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by the extreme sweetness of the dense, pink beverage. I would like to have had more of the juice, but after consuming the hummus and the Shawarma, my stomach was making it clear it was full enough.
The prices for this enjoyable venue are low and affordable. My appetizer was $4.75, the large and very well prepared Shawarma sandwich was $5.25 and my guava juice was $1.75.
As I left the Lebanese Butcher and Restaurant, I chuckled at my initial unease with the restaurant’s name. It is a hidden jewel where you can try something new, and sample a diverse and appetizing cuisine, in addition to staying well within the tightest budget.