Monday, February 11, 2008

Beirut Restaurant and Deli - West St Paul, MN

I had walked into Beirut with a notion I was going to order the Shawirma or gyro. Beirut as their menu states offers a "truly authentic Lebanese dining experience."

It became readily apparent with the offerings that I should be a little more adventurous and thus I decided to go with the Byblos Lunch Entree ($8.95), pronounced bee-blows, consisting of a combination of Shawirma and Falafel served with tabouli salad and pita bread. The Falafel consisted of deep fried patties of seasoned ground garbanzo beans, mixed with chopped parsley, onion, garlic, and spices. The tabouli salad consisted of fine chopped parsley, bulgur wheat, diced tomatoes, and onion.

The Shawirma sans pocket bread wasn't up to the standard of the gyros I had elsewhere. The Beirut Shawirma was too refined and delicate compared to gyros dripping with man-beast essence, overflowing with lamb, raw onions, and messy cucumber sauce. Nonetheless this dainty little Shawirma was very good.

The Falafel. WOW! One bite and it was an instant whole new food group for me. The crunchy exterior gave way to a soft warm interior of comforting texture and middle eastern spices. The initial bite reminded me of hushpuppies but once inside, it was another taste of heaven, something you'll have to experience.

The tabouli had the distinct parsley taste and overall a satisfyingly different salad. I believe I would come to crave it as a staple.

My colleague wanted a meat dish but was a little less sure and settled for the Shawirma Pocket Platter ($7.95) consisting of seasoned ground lamb and beef cooked slowly on a vertical rotisserie and thinly sliced, served in a pocket bread with diced tomatoes, chopped parsley, and tahini sauce accompanied by tabouli and rice pilaf.

We also ordered the Hummus B-tanhini ($5.75) appetizer pictured in the background of the top picture - a pureed mixture of garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic and spices topped with olive oil and served with bread. The Hummus was the best that I have had to date. It was fresh, smooth, with none of that sometimes gritty stale off-taste too common in the hummus I've had before.

Beirut is a treasured finding, maybe one of those well guarded secrets known only to locals.

1385 Robert St
West St Paul, MN

Beirut Restaurant & Deli on Urbanspoon

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