A Lebanese Veggie Feast at Fattoush

By John DiGilio in Food on Apr 4, 2011 8:20PM

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Due to its heavy reliance on lamb, beef, and chicken, some diners might think Middle Eastern cuisine isn't vegetarian-friendly. Sure, there are staples like hummus and baba ganoush that are popular and made without meat. But these alone are hardly enough to satisfy a hungry herbivore. A recent trip to Lincoln Park’s Fattoush, however, dispelled our misconceptions and reservations. Their Lebanese stylings opened up a whole new world of meat-free flavor for us.

We happened into Fattoush on a rainy Friday evening, thanks to a combination of hunger and necessity. We were wet and famished and worried that we would not find much vegetarian fare in a Middle Eastern restaurant. What we found inside calmed our nerves and exceeded our expectations. The interior of the restaurant was warm and cozy. The service was nothing short of sterling. The staff was friendly and very helpful in helping us make choices as first-timers. Their recommendations were spot on. Most importantly, there were enough choices (and even a special) for any vegetarian to dine like a sultan. Pricing is moderate, so expect to spend about $30 for a full meal with appetizer and dessert.

We started with the batata hara, an appetizer of spicy potatoes. Though they were fried, the potatoes were not oily. We ordered them on the mild side, which left them just spicy enough to keep us refilling our water glasses. They were delicious. For our entree, we ordered one of the evening’s specials - a savory vegetable tart. It was packed with tomatoes, onions, and root vegetables that were cooked to tender perfection and topped with feta. This was paired with a refreshing and light Lebanese salad. It’s lemon-garlic dressing was the perfect accompaniment to our tart. We finished off the meal with a selection of flaky, sweet baklava and another special of the evening that can best be described as a Middle Eastern twist on a connoli. The filling was a lemony, creamy treat.

There were plenty of other delicious vegetarian options on the menu. The roasted eggplant and chickpea masa’kaa and stuffed grape leaves are on the list for our next visit. So is the Fattoush signature salad with its fresh spring greens, mint, radishes and more. Sadly, there was only so much room in our tummies on this first visit. If you go, be sure to sample the sweet and smooth Lebanese coffee. Let them know if you need gluten-free options as well. They have you covered. Fattoush is B.Y.O.B. and accepts reservations.

Fattoush is located at 2652 North Halsted Street.