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Mount of Lebanon (Formerly Lebanese Butcher), Falls Church - In the Former Majestic Space on Annandale Road - Closed


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Over here...

Lebanese Butcher we learned is reopening soon down the street.

I'll be first in line.

 

Drum roll....it's re-opened! Sort of....

Lebanese Butcher is open just around the corner and up Hillwood about a block away from the former place. The butcher shop and grocery is open and doing well. I scored kibbeh, tabouleh, hummus, baba ghanouj, olives, shankleesh and bread today. A mezze feast will be on my table tonight. The butcher shop has an overall better layout than previously -- the meat case is much larger and loaded with more selections, and the checkout counter is much nicer. The grocery shelves and refrigerated cases are about the same cramped size as before. Overall, the look and feel of this space is much better and cleaner.

Kheder told me that the restaurant will reopen next door in about a month (inshallah!), and the renovations to the space are under way now. If it's as nice an upgrade as the butcher shop and grocery, it will be a right fine Middle Eastern restaurant. I feel a Rockwellian get-together when it opens.....

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I stopped in Lebanese Butcher for a grocery run of olives, olive oil and assorted other goods. My eye caught a sign that the grocery would soon be expanded to include the space next door. That's good news, but then I wondered what would happen to the plans to reopen the restaurant there. I bumped into Kheder and asked him, and his answer changed my life.

Lebanese Butcher bought, and is building out, the old Majestic restaurant and night club around the corner and up Annandale Road, towards Rt. 50. OMFG! A real restaurant, with lots and lots of seats, and a menu featuring the best kibbee nayee around! Opening day is scheduled for August 1, and I told him I would go there right now and sit at the front door until it opened. We hugged and kissed. When it opens, I will be in the door and rolling around on the floor in a pile of kibbee nayee, like a dog rolls around in something it likes....so to speak....

Yes, there will be a DR event there in August, I guarantee....stay tuned....

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I can hardly contain myself.....Bukra Inshallah! (That means "Tomorrow, God willing" in Arabic.)

I stopped by Mount Lebanon today, and saw the hustle and bustle of workers all about. Kheder spotted me from inside the front door and waved me in. The tables were set and ready, the dining area looked sparkling (and big), a few finishing touches on the interior were taking place, and he told me they will open for business tomorrow! We laughed, we cried, we danced....I told him I needed kibbee nayee desperately, and he used my plea as an admonishment for the frazzled work staff to finish today. Lady Kibbee is on alert for dinner tomorrow, and I will be the one with a mountain of kibbee nayee in front of me and a table cloth tied around my neck....bukra inshallah!

The Majestic sugns are still prominently displayed on the front and side of the restaurant, so whether they get swapped out tonight or sometime later is a detail to be disregarded for now. Come one, come all, and come hungry!

(I stopped in Present for a "goodbye lunch" of sorts, since Mount Lebanon is right around the corner and I'll probably never pass up a meal there whenever I'm in the neighboorhood.)

To complete my reconaissance, I stopped by Lebanese Butcher for some burghul....and it's now expanded into the space next door! The Lebanese Butcher is twice its old size! For me, stepping in the door is not unlike stepping into Heaven, and now Heaven is twice the size!!!! By the way, the lamb and the veal looked like perfection in the meat case today....reminding me that the sourcing of meats for Mount Lebanon will be spectacular.

Bukra Inshallah!

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Re: halal veal. Do you know if the calves are humanely raised? Or is it just the way they are slaughtered that makes them halal?

Halal covers method of slaughter, from what little I know. However, I know that they care for other animals, like chickens, humanely. All of their chickens are free-range, so I doubt the veal has its ankles broken if that's what you mean....

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Update -- Lady Kibbee and I did a walk-through today, and the kitchen staff was working on cleaning things up and getting ready for what is now promised as a Monday soft launch. Will check on Monday and report back dutifully....I feel like the geeky schoolboy getting anticipating his first date with the hot cheerleader....

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Chowhound made me think of this... please tell me there is a fountain? I loved the fountain in the old place. It just made my day.

I've done two walk-throughs, and I don't recall a fountain. Where was it located?

As you walk in the front door, there is a small bar area on the right and a large bar area directly ahead. Neither are stocked with alcohol, and that will remain the case if it's halal. There is a nice wooden dance floor that is now covered with set tables. I wonder if they'll get around to Middle Eastern entertainment at some point down the road....?

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I was looking for a website but I found their Facebook page instead. The restaurant's name, according to their FB page, is "Mount of Lebanon" or Jebal Libnan.

In Arabic, Jebal Libnan or جبل لبنان means Mount Lebanon, which is an actual and somewhat well-known geographic location in north-central Lebanon. They are certainly allowed to call their restaurant Mount of Lebanon, but it may be simply that their ability to translate into English is a bit rough. I'll be eating there no matter what they call it....

[by the way, I stopped by today for an update. I had a part-Arabic, part-English conversation with a young man who indicated they were waiting for a license of some kind, probably not for liquor, and hoped to be open soon, "inshallah"....I couldn't help but think how difficult it will be on the staff to serve food all day during Ramadan while not being allowed so much as a drop of water themselves until after dark every day....and yes, they will call themselves "Mount of Lebanon" however inaccurate, and their phone number is 703-241-2012.]

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(please provide facebook link, thanks)

Facebook Page

I had the 10 appetizer sampler yesterday

1. Stuffed grape leaves

2. Olives

3. Kibbeh

4. Falafel

5. Small chorizo like sausages

6. Ground lamb patty in a red sauce (harissa?)

7. Hummus

8. Babaganouj

9. Yogurt

10. Tzatziki-like dip

For $35 - definitely enough food for 2. The pita doesn't seem to be fresh baked. Big room, almost too big. Lots of TVs.

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Lady Kibbee and I stopped in today for a nice mid-afternoon snack. We ordered from the mezze menu -- hummus with pine nuts, lamb brain sandwich, fettoush, tabbouli, and (wait for it) kibbee nayee! The food was absolutely top-notch, and the kibbee nayee was far above and beyond any I've ordered at any restaurant. I'm in kibbee nayee heaven. And yes, it's on the menu every day, you don't have to order ahead, and it's a mere $9.95 for a very generous portion. Is this heaven?

[Let me add, this is downright wonderful kibbee nayee -- a generous serving of at least 10 ounces (my estimation) drizzled with olive oil and pine nuts, surrounded by sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, Lebanese gherkins, cucumbers and a nice mound of olives, sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley....it was almost calling my name. When Anthony Bourdain, toward the end of his second Lebanon episode, tasted kibbee nayee and declared it the best raw meat dish he ever had, better than any tartare, this was the version he was tasting. This is my death row meal, my last supper, and Mount of Lebanon absolutely nailed it.]

The hummus, the brain sandwich, the fettoush and the tabbouli were up there with the better versions available around the area, so this kitchen appears to have the potential for pumping out some of the highest quality Middle Eastern fare around here. I'm not sure I've seen lamb brains on many other menus around here, but remember, this place is owned by the Lebanese Butcher family. There might not be a restaurant in the entire DC area, and that includes any of the 4-star establishments, with a more pristine source of meats.

We chatted up Mustafa, who was serving as maitre d today, and he was extremely gracious for a man fasting all day during Ramadan. He confirmed that Mount of Lebanon won't be serving alcohol, maintaining the halal observance, but the list of juices is quite extensive. So is the list of tobaccos available for shisha on the outdoor patio once the weather cooperates. Mustafa mentioned that they're expecting good crowds for "breakfast" which in his definition meant the breaking of the Ramadan fast, and which he accurately noted began at 8:04pm tonight.

The place has the look and feel of a converted dance club, with high acoustic ceilings, bars (that are no longer serving alcohol) on three walls and a wooden dance floor now covered with tables and chairs. The lack of alcohol is a minor inconvenience, but the omnipresent kibbee nayee is worth the sacrifice for me. And obviously, there will be no pork products here, but I can live without pork when nose to tail lamb is available.

It will be a rare day that I pass through Falls Church for any reason and not stop in Mount of Lebanon for a plate of kibbee nayee. Please feel free to join me.

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I tried Mount of Lebanon last week. I was a regular at their old place before the fire and was looking forward to their reopening. Boy was I disappointed. I went there just after they opened one day and was the only patron in the place. I ordered the schwarma which was overcooked and gummy with caked on spices to the point of being inedible. It almost seemed that it was left over from the previous day and reheated in a skillet. When they saw that I barely touched my meal they kindly offered to make something else ( which I declined) and they would not let me pay. They also explained how they had just opened and were still working out the kinks. Given how many enjoyable meals I have had there before, I will probably give them another shot

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I tried Mount of Lebanon last week. I was a regular at their old place before the fire and was looking forward to their reopening. Boy was I disappointed. I went there just after they opened one day and was the only patron in the place. I ordered the schwarma which was overcooked and gummy with caked on spices to the point of being inedible. It almost seemed that it was left over from the previous day and reheated in a skillet. When they saw that I barely touched my meal they kindly offered to make something else ( which I declined) and they would not let me pay. They also explained how they had just opened and were still working out the kinks. Given how many enjoyable meals I have had there before, I will probably give them another shot

Wow, that was brutal. Even when they were gracious enough to offer you another dish gratis, and you blasted them? And you were a former regular? And during Ramadan, no less, when the kitchen staff and the front of the house can't even sip a drop of water during the day. Wow....!

Allow me an attempt at rewriting your post for you....

I tried Mount of Lebanon last week. I was a regular at their old place before the fire and was looking forward to their reopening. The dining room was mostly empty, and I experienced some of their early growing pains. My shwarma was not quite up to their old standards, but they graciously offered to comp me another meal to compensate. That's the kind of people they are, and during Ramadan when they are all fasting during the day, it really impressed me. Despite today's hiccup, and given how many enjoyable meals I've experienced there in the past, I am looking forward to giving them another shot.

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Wow, that was brutal. Even when they were gracious enough to offer you another dish gratis, and you blasted them? And you were a former regular? And during Ramadan, no less, when the kitchen staff and the front of the house can't even sip a drop of water during the day. Wow....!

Allow me an attempt at rewriting your post for you....

I tried Mount of Lebanon last week. I was a regular at their old place before the fire and was looking forward to their reopening. The dining room was mostly empty, and I experienced some of their early growing pains. My shwarma was not quite up to their old standards, but they graciously offered to comp me another meal to compensate. That's the kind of people they are, and during Ramadan when they are all fasting during the day, it really impressed me. Despite today's hiccup, and given how many enjoyable meals I've experienced there in the past, I am looking forward to giving them another shot.

If shwarma sucks, it sucks more when it's sugarcoated.

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Wow, that was brutal. Even when they were gracious enough to offer you another dish gratis, and you blasted them? And you were a former regular? And during Ramadan, no less, when the kitchen staff and the front of the house can't even sip a drop of water during the day. Wow....!

Allow me an attempt at rewriting your post for you....

I tried Mount of Lebanon last week. I was a regular at their old place before the fire and was looking forward to their reopening. The dining room was mostly empty, and I experienced some of their early growing pains. My shwarma was not quite up to their old standards, but they graciously offered to comp me another meal to compensate. That's the kind of people they are, and during Ramadan when they are all fasting during the day, it really impressed me. Despite today's hiccup, and given how many enjoyable meals I've experienced there in the past, I am looking forward to giving them another shot.

Wow, that was rude. While you may disagree with how the review was phrased, its not your place to reword to make you feel better. Not to get into a religious battle but using Ramadan as an excuse is pretty lame in my opinion - if you are not going to put out the best product then don't open or at least let people know before they order.

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Wow, that was rude.

I agree. I thought the OP was gracious enough - he pointed out the bad, and then the good. I've been there twice and my experiences were definitely similar (i.e., rather unimpressive food but very hospitable).

BTW, the more someone pimps a place, the less likely that I would want to go. And I pretty much ignore the pimp.

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Wow, that was brutal. Even when they were gracious enough to offer you another dish gratis, and you blasted them? And you were a former regular? And during Ramadan, no less, when the kitchen staff and the front of the house can't even sip a drop of water during the day. Wow....!

Allow me an attempt at rewriting your post for you....

I tried Mount of Lebanon last week. I was a regular at their old place before the fire and was looking forward to their reopening. The dining room was mostly empty, and I experienced some of their early growing pains. My shwarma was not quite up to their old standards, but they graciously offered to comp me another meal to compensate. That's the kind of people they are, and during Ramadan when they are all fasting during the day, it really impressed me. Despite today's hiccup, and given how many enjoyable meals I've experienced there in the past, I am looking forward to giving them another shot.

Wow, are you serious with this? The OP's review was FAR from a blast, and I don't see how re-branding something that was "inedible" as "not quite up to their old standards" helps anyone...

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Went here Sunday with Hubby. Overall thoughts: Our poor waiter was so nervous I felt bad for him. The new space is awkwardly large and cavernous when empty and I seriously worry if the kitchen could keep up when they were full. Tables were awkward there were fancy water glasses, then they would bring out normal ones, fancy napkins and paper. I just wanted them to decide if they are going that route or no because both made you feel awkward, we didn't know what to do with all the napkins. The place was smokey, I dunno if from the kitchen or remnants of hookah, but wasn't my favorite scent.

Service and the kitchen were really slow, but that was the case at the old place and Hubby ordered something that took some time. I just have no idea how they would keep up if even half the tables were full. The pita has to be from a bag pita. Not my favorite, but as I recall that is what it has always been. Lamb Schwarma was really good, same flavor as before. I should have stuck with the chips that came with it because the fries I mainly ordered to dip in hummus (don't ask I really like it) were pitiful. The pickled veggies were great. Hubby had the grilled quail which was a huge portion of really tasty quail with a lemon, thyme sauce. He too made the mistake of ordering fries. Oh well lesson learned get rice. Great deal for all the food we got though, the schwarma had lots of meat and flavor and so did the four quails we got, a seriously large portion.

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Went for lunch today (Monday, Oct. 31) with a co-worker. We immediately noticed that the large space was devoid of customers and lacked heat. I wanted to try the chicken shawarma platter but changed the order to a sandwich after being told the platter is served with salad and not rice. We also added an order of hummus. My co-worker had the lamb shawarma sandwich. He didn't like it, and I didn't ask him why. He just left his sandwich half uneaten. I enjoyed my chicken, even though the sauce was very garlicky. I had a hard time enjoying the hummus because I didn't care for their bread. Do they serve rice at all at Mount of Lebanon?

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Went for lunch today (Monday, Oct. 31) with a co-worker. We immediately noticed that the large space was devoid of customers and lacked heat. I wanted to try the chicken shawarma platter but changed the order to a sandwich after being told the platter is served with salad and not rice. We also added an order of hummus. My co-worker had the lamb shawarma sandwich. He didn't like it, and I didn't ask him why. He just left his sandwich half uneaten. I enjoyed my chicken, even though the sauce was very garlicky. I had a hard time enjoying the hummus because I didn't care for their bread. Do they serve rice at all at Mount of Lebanon?

I had two meals here recently. During the first, a dine-in, it was very difficult to turn away from the four enormous TVs, blaring music videos. I liked the kibbeh nayeh, but after so many years of "liking, but not loving" this dish, I wonder if there's something about the grilling of great lamb that somehow carries it further into its native state; or maybe it's just that everyone seems to over-oil their kibbeh nayeh. And the lamb shish-kabob was outstanding - big chunks of juicy lamb meat, perfectly cooked to medium-rare; it was markedly better than the lamb shawarma which was cooked to the point of losing what makes this lamb so wonderful. On the way out, I noticed the chcken shish-kabob which looked just as extraoridinary as the lamb, so on a second evening, I phoned in a carryout order for a chicken shish-kabob platter and a lamb fatteh. The fatteh has that same wonderful lamb meat, but it was smaller-cut and drowning, visually indistinguishable from a multitude of torn pita, in what must have been over a pint of thick, really good yogurt. This was, de facto, lamb-flavored yogurt, and was a victim of its sloppy assemblage. Unfortunately and inexplicably, the chicken shish-kabob platter came out as a lamb shawarma sandwich, so I still haven't been able to try that tantalizing chicken. My advice here is to go for large pieces of either lamb or chicken, and forget about everything else.

(Animal sacrificing with moon bounce.)

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Stopped by Lebanese Butcher for some provisions today....all is well here, and I caught the bread delivery as it was coming in the door so I grabbed a fresh pack. I noticed the old space across the street is being renovated, so a newer and decidedly less tacky shopping plaza will soon emerge from the construction activity.

Then came lunch at Mount of Lebanon. I sat down in the empty dining room -- it is less roomy because the large room off to the left as you walk in the front door has been walled off. The waitress told me that they're planning to put a sweets shop in there. They were originally thinking of putting the butcher shop there, but reconsidered because of the noise generated by the butcher shop. But I certainly look forward to the sweets shop.

I ordered my standard kibbee nayeh -- two orders -- and the waitress said to me "You know, it's raw, right?" To which I responded "It better be!" After a wait of about 15 minutes, out came two platters of deliciousness. I am surprised how the presentation of this meal has changed over the few months since the restaurant opened. It once was a more flattened and rectangular portion, cross-hatched with diamond shapes, topped with olive oil and pine nuts, and accompanied by relishes such as pickles, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers. Today, it was more of a loaf, slightly larger in portion size, decorated by scalloped spoon imprints, covered with olive oil and pine nuts, and accompanied by pickled turnips, pickled onions, tomatoes and cucumbers.

But my observations are (1) it was absolutely delicious, (2) at $9.45 a plate, it is the best quality-quantity-value kibbee nayeh deal on the planet, (3) I certainly don't need two plates in the future, since they upped the portion size, and (4) having enjoyed the kibbee nayeh at Mama Ayesha's (last week), Layalina, Me Jana, Lebanese Taverna and Mediterranean Gourmet Market, all in the past year, I can honestly declare Mount of Lebanon's version to be the best in the area.

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(4) having enjoyed the kibbee nayeh at Mama Ayesha's (last week), Layalina, Me Jana, Lebanese Taverna and Mediterranean Gourmet Market, all in the past year, I can honestly declare Mount of Lebanon's version to be the best in the area.

Have you sampled the kibbee nayeh at all of the Lebanese Tavernas?

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Have you sampled the kibbee nayeh at all of the Lebanese Tavernas?

Not yet, but it's on my bucket list. Most recently I tried the Tysons Corner rendition, which was a tasty but smallish disk about the size of a hamburger, for $10. It's good, but it's just good. I have had the similar versions at the original in Arlington and the Connecticut Avenue locations in the past.

Me Jana is the only one that serves theirs in hand-formed balls, about the size of the rice under a good-sized piece of sushi. As I recall, there are three of these in an order at Me Jana.

Layalina does not have it on the daily menu, but if you call ahead and order it is advance, Sam will make sure it's available. Their version is also good. Mediterranean Gourmet Market has it on Sundays as a special, and it's also good.

One drawback of the Mount of Lebanon version -- they do not serve alcohol, and kibbee nayeh goes best with arak. The best combination of kibbee nayeh with arak is at Layalina....but again, you have to order ahead.

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I'm a little confused--is the butcher shop at the same location as the restaurant, at the old Majestic location? Anybody know the shop hours? They don't seem to have a web site, and in this day and age.

The Mount of Lebanon restaurant is in the old Majestic space. Further towards Falls Church and around the corner, across from Halalco, is the Lebanese Butcher. It's at 150 Hillwood Ave, and the number is 703-593-2903....I believe the old address was 113 E. Annandale Road, but I could have the two addresses mixed up. They are a stone's throw from each other.

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I made a shankleesh run to Lebanese Butcher today -- they have expanded the grocery area into all of what was originally going to be the next door restaurant. It's about the size of the former butcher shop, grocery and restaurant across the way, but without the restaurant.

But, heading back towards Rt. 50, I couldn't resist a nice mezze at Mount of Lebanon. The table was filled with hummus with meat, soujok, filafel, tabouli and...wait for it...kibbee nayeh. These were some of the finest renditions of each dish that I had in some time. The kibbee nayeh was absolutely perfect and remains the area's best kibbee nayeh and best kibbee hayeh value by far. The hummus was very good, although the meat was on the dry side. The soujok was a hit, especially when you take a small piece of pita, dab some hummus on it, drop a soujok on top of that, and then top it off with a red pickled turnip slice. The tabouli was fresh -- ask for lettuce leaves and wrap a good portion of tabouli inside a lettuce leaf like a taco -- and the filafel was as good as any I've had in a long time. I'm still burping in happiness.

The service was slow but very pleasant, and the place was nearly empty, but this restaurant serves up some of the best fare of its kind this side of Me Jana. The kibbee nayeh at Mount of Lebanon is my death row meal.

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Is the butcher closed? I drove by today and it was empty, with 'for lease' signs. I hope they've just moved again...

If closed, this would be an act of serious cruelty after KN's fantastic 101 post has no doubt motivated a bunch of us to prioritize first visits here...or at least me. :(

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I'm a little confused--is the butcher shop at the same location as the restaurant, at the old Majestic location? Anybody know the shop hours? They don't seem to have a web site, and in this day and age.

Is the butcher closed? I drove by today and it was empty, with 'for lease' signs. I hope they've just moved again...

After six months, the new Lebanese Butcher and Mount of Lebanon restaurant are under the same roof. The Lebanese Butcher area is a large grocery and butcher shop, rivaling Mediterranean Bakery in Alexandria on the grocery side. However, the Mediterranean Bakery doesn't have a butcher shop, and a very good one at that.

What was the cavernous restaurant had its size about halved, but it is still plenty big enough. They seem to have gotten back to the original Lebanese Butcher with the restaurant on one side and the grovery/butcher on the other side, but each are quite expanded over the original.

I was there to pick up about 3 lbs. of kibbee nayee for dinner....they make it fresh on the spot. To my knowledge, this is the only place in our area where you can walk in the door, say "3 lbs. of kibbee nayee to go" and walk out about 5 minutes later with your fresh stash....Heaven!

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Claudia and I had lunch here yesterday. The food was good, as it has been in the past. I had a lengthy discussion with the waiter about cleaning up the parking lot. There are 2-3 ft weeds growing out of it and the open sign can not be seen from the road. While the lot does need repaving, it could be really improved just by a good cleaning. The place has a run down look that could be easily corrected and have more curb side appeal.

Lunch was Babaganouj, nice size portion with some bread out of a bag, Kibbeh, which was just three pieces (seemed high priced for the amount), a lamb kaboh, that was huge with salad and a Falafel sandwich.

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I arrived around 3:00 on a Friday afternoon, made eye contact with Kheder, and he asked "How much you want?" I told him 3 or 4 lbs, and not too much salt. "I make it for you now," he said. He knew I was there for kibbeh nayeh, because whenever I come there it's for kibbeh nayeh. I took my cart around the store and filled up on olives and pine nuts and a gallon jug of Saifan olive oil, and circled back for a taste. He offered me a small golfball of the raw delight, to allow me to judge the salt, and it was perfect. Within a few more minutes I was out the door with four lbs of precious payload, with which to feed me and my daughter -- yeah, there were other guests for dinner, and quite a mezze was placed before them, but my daughter and I took care of about two and a half lbs of the kibbeh nayeh by oursleves. I cooked the rest of it after dinner, to enjoy again today in another form.

For order-on-the-spot kibbeh nayeh, this is the best in our area, by far, and maybe even the best outside of Brooklyn or Dearborn.

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I arrived around 3:00 on a Friday afternoon, made eye contact with Kheder, and he asked "How much you want?" I told him 3 or 4 lbs, and not too much salt. "I make it for you now," he said. He knew I was there for kibbeh nayeh, because whenever I come there it's for kibbeh nayeh. I took my cart around the store and filled up on olives and pine nuts and a gallon jug of Saifan olive oil, and circled back for a taste. He offered me a small golfball of the raw delight, to allow me to judge the salt, and it was perfect. Within a few more minutes I was out the door with four lbs of precious payload, with which to feed me and my daughter -- yeah, there were other guests for dinner, and quite a mezze was placed before them, but my daughter and I took care of about two and a half lbs of the kibbeh nayeh by oursleves. I cooked the rest of it after dinner, to enjoy again today in another form.

For order-on-the-spot kibbeh nayeh, this is the best in our area, by far, and maybe even the best outside of Brooklyn or Dearborn.

So it's not just me?

Although I certainly don't have your expertise, Kibbee Nayee, Mount of Lebanon's Kibbeh Nayeh (when it's at its best) is the best *I've* ever had, for whatever that's worth, and it's not that close of a call.

And I have a tin of Chika (Persian, not Lebanese, but still) "Taste of Home" Pickled Olive waiting for the next time I see you.

Tried it with Philadelphia Cream Cheese yet? Cuts right through the salt. :)

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When Mount of Lebanon opened after the Lebanese Butcher burned down, we went once and were not exactly impressed.  The space was cavernous, the service spotty, the menu huge, the food variable.

Went back last week.  They've changed it almost entirely.  Now, the vast cavernous space is the grocer and butcher.  The restaurant is much smaller, the menu shorter, the service tighter and more attentive.  I ordered kibbee nayee, lamb brains, and lamb heart, kidney and liver.

Others at the table ordered hummus with meat, grapeleaves stuffed with rice and meat, and shwarma.

Impressions: the shwarma was excellent, as it always has been.  Same for the hummus.  The little touches, the fresh pita, the creamy and astringent tahini, the crisp pink pickled turnips, really make these dishes.  This was the first time we tried kibbee nayee.  My husband ate it all, and it was a very large serving.  He loved it.  It's very fresh and well prepared, smooth and uniform.  Nobody but me tried the heart-kidney-liver-combo.  I still don't like liver or kidneys, and was not able to pick out the heart since all the pieces were chopped and sauteed together.  If you like kidney and liver, it's well prepared, just wasted on me.

I was enjoying the brains, which were braised or poached, creamy and delicate, when I noticed that my son was holding his menu between us while we ate so he did not have to look at them.  Well, they do look exactly like what they are, brains.  I asked the waiter to wrap them up to go.

My husband was not feeling well so I drove him home and did not get a chance to shop in the store, but it appears to be the most comprehensive Middle Eastern grocer in Northern Virginia.  I did get a chance to ask the butcher whether they carry sweetbreads and he said I should order them in advance since they sell fast, but they did have a container of lamb brains inside the butcher's case.  The butcher department is well known for the quality of the halal meat.

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