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Meet Mouthwatering Mediterranean Cuisine At Abou André

By John DiGilio in Food on Sep 14, 2012 7:40PM

Think all falafel are created equal? Think again! The light and tasty fare at the new Abou André brings a Lebanese touch to the Loop that will delight fans of Mediterranean cuisine. With eight locations in Lebanon, the family-owned chain has hung its first American shingle right here in the heart of our fair city. With a menu dedicated to fresh ingredients and full, natural flavors, Abou Andre´ Mediterranean Bistro are raising the bar on baba ghanoug and more.

Started in Lebanon in 1976 by Farid Lufti, Abou André has just welcomed its third generation of family owners and its first outpost in the United States. The bistro offers a full range of Mediterranean delights designed to tempt the American palate without compromising the authenticity of its native recipes. The falafel, for example, are not made from chickpeas, as is so common in most restaurants. Instead, fava beans are used to a deliciously different effect. Also on the menu are chicken and beef kebabs (carnivores rejoice), exotic salads (think tabouleh), hummus plates, and more traditional dishes. All selections are under eight dollars.

Having heard good things about the fava-based falafel and news of a recent internet frenzy that packed the place, we just had to drop in and give Abou the one-two. Everything looked so fresh that we decided to go all out and try several selections. The baba ghanoug and hummus were both excellent. Fully flavored and fresh-tasting, they reminded us why homemade is often so much better than store bought. We also tried two of the salads. The tabouleh was light and tasty with just the right blend of parsley, tomato, bulgur and a nicely tangy lemon dressing. The fattoush salad featured a fresh mix of romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers and mint. It was complemented by a zesty vinaigrette and and homemade pita croutons.

The main attraction to our meal was definitely the falafel. We have eaten a lot of these in the city; Falafel is becoming almost ubiquitous in Chicago. We had never, however, had it made with fava beans before. Oh what we have been missing! Abou André's twist on this standard Mediterranean offering is outstanding. Crispy on the outside, yet soft and light on the inside, it has a savory flavor that is deliciously unique. Our falafel sandwich came wrapped in pita and was topped with pickled turnips, parsley, tomatoes and a yummy, homemade tahini. We tried to eat it slowly so as to savor this departure from the ordinary falafel experience, but it was just too good and gone too fast.

The next time you are in the Loop and craving a meal that is heavy on the flavor and light on your wallet, stop by Abou André Mediterranean Bistro. A commitment to good, quality food from three generations of the Lufti family won't steer you wrong. Not only can you see the pride in the face of the founder's grandson, Farid, as he works the counter... you can taste it in the creations he is serving up.

Abou André Mediterranean Bistro is located at 60 E. Jackson Blvd.