7523 3rd Ave
City: Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 748-5600
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
2nd Cuisine: Lebanese
Area: Bay Ridge
Entree Price: $10-15
Tanoreen is a popular Lebanese spot in Brooklyn where the smell of allspice is always in the air and in the food. The restaurant has a true Middle Eastern feel with its rich colors, thick wooden tables and Moroccan style lamps. The place is also always packed. Even on a Sunday you will need a reservation, or be prepared to wait at the bar. Cocktails include a pomegranate number, and the Tanoreentini made with vodka, grapefruit juice and rosewater. Just be prepared to pay New York City prices. They also sell Lebanese craft beers.
Much of the success of Tanoreen can be pegged to Chef/Owner Rawia Bishara who pampers her guests just as much as her food. Food that is inspired by her own mother and ingredients from the area around Galilee. Today Rawia and her daughter pretty much run the show.
Appetizers are the real stars here, especially the dips. They range from silky smooth hummus infused with garlic and lemon to smoky baba ghanouge, and a dish not often found in restaurants called Mhammara. It's a mix of crushed red bell peppers, walnuts, pomagranate molasses and is heavily spiced. It's also one of the dishes I can't seem to get enough of. All of the plates are meant for sharing including grapeleaves stuffed with rice and lamb that given a healthy splash of lemon. There are meat and spinach pies, and kibbe; ground lamb with bulgar wheat that can be ordered cooked or raw.
Larger plates and fairly priced in the twenty dollar range. Marinated lamb shish kebab is a hot seller served with peppers and onions on a bed of rice pilaf and a fresh garden salad. Shrimps sauteed with garlic and herbs are plump and juicy. A special of baked eggplant with ground lamb proved not to be too special, but stuffed cabbage in a lemony broth brought back memories of a dish my mother used to make.
Desserts include traditonal baklava and a semolina coconut cake. But the special of the house is the Knafeh made with crispy layers of shredded filo dough, sweet cheese and soaked in an orange blossom syrup. It's best to order it ahead of time, since it takes at least 15 minutes to prepare.
Review By: Thomas Rafael