Jump to content

Me Jana, N. Wilson Blvd. in Courthouse - Lebanese in the old Sala Thai Space


Recommended Posts

The relatively recently-opened Sala Thai at the corner of Clarendon Boulevard and N. Adams St. in Courthouse is closed. There's a large sign in the window advertising a new restaurant: "Me Jana." The sign states that the restaurant will feature "Fine Mediterranean Dining." Some quick Googling didn't turn up anything relevant for "Me Jana," though there seem to be one or more Mediterranean restaurants in other cities called "Mejana."

Link to post
Share on other sites
The relatively recently-opened Sala Thai at the corner of Clarendon Boulevard and N. Adams St. in Courthouse is closed.

I believe that Sala Thai has been in that location for a number of years (at least 5) and was not relatively new. I also thought that I saw that the building was going to be razed for some more condos or office buildings. With all of the great Thai options available in Arlington, this is not a great loss.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I believe that Sala Thai has been in that location for a number of years (at least 5) and was not relatively new. I also thought that I saw that the building was going to be razed for some more condos or office buildings. With all of the great Thai options available in Arlington, this is not a great loss.

No, this location just opened, less than a year ago.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Isn't it the same building as the CVS? Has a rounded set of windows that looks out onto the road? If that is the same place, I remember eating Thai there several years ago, and I swear it was Sala.

Different place. Although I believe that the CVS/Sala Thai at the 10th St. and Washington Blvd location are also not long for this world. The land is too close to the Clarendon Metro to carry all that surface parking. I thought the Sala Thai was decent, but still miss the miniature golf course that occupied the location prior to CVS/Sala.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I happened to end up in my building's elevator with a Sala Thai delivery guy this evening, and I asked him about the closing of the Courthouse location. There was a bit of a language barrier, but he seemed to say that the Courthouse location was just too close to the older location (at N. 10th and Washington Blvd.), and the new location in Courthouse was not getting enough business. (And I bet the rent was on the high side.) The delivery guy said that the older location is expected to stay open for the foreseeable future.

I suspect that part of what happened is that if one lives in Courthouse, Sawatdee is the place to go for Thai. My apartment overlooks the now-closed Sala Thai location, but I always walked right by en route to Sawatdee.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The delivery guy said that the older location is expected to stay open for the foreseeable future.

Sala Thai's older location (next to the CVS) has a sign that says Garfield Park Condos, Coming Spring 2007. Given what the delivery guy said to you, and given that Spring 2007 has come and gone without any sign of condo construction, I guess there's been a bit of a reprieve.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't eaten AT Me Jana, but a friend had them prepare some food for a party over the weekend. Everything I tasted was quite good, despite the fact that it had been sitting out for a while. Kibbeh was crispy with lots of flavor in the groun lamb center. Hummus was creamy and garlicky. Falafel was not at all greasy, very fresh tasting - I'm a bit of a falafel snob and I'm not entirely convinced it wasn't from a mix, but if it was a mix, it was a good one. Based on what I tasted, I would definitely like to check out the restaurant.

(I'm questioning the listing on OpenTable that says $31-50 - seems on the high side for Lebanese - anyone seen a menu?)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Me Jana's name conveys the Lebanese restaurant's desire to make its customers feel like family. Diners are greeted with a kind word and a basket of warm pita at the table akin to the soft, pillowy bread served at Zaytinya. A small plate in the center of the table contains olives, zatar (a spice), olive oil, and labneh (a thick yogurt), and the pita is well-served by a quick swipe through the olive oil and a dip in the labneh.

Me Jana's interior suits its neighborhood. Red walls, glossy wood floors, and dark wood tables set a hip, stylish tone. Black cloth napkins, candles on the table, and stemless glasses for red wine help round out the ambiance, but the restaurant is not so urban, upscale, and/or grandiose in appearance that it seems out of place in Arlington. One can walk in wearing jeans and a sweater or a going-out-on-the-town outfit and feel comfortable.

The dinner menu consists of over 40 small plates and fewer than ten entrees. The small plates range in price from $5.00 (thyme fries) to $14.00 (lamb shank); entrees range in price from $17.00 (kafta kebob) to $29.00 (lamb chops).

Me Jana's prices are a potentially fatal problem and may scare many diners away, particularly the diners in surrounding apartment and condominium buildings who might otherwise become regulars. The fattouch salad, at $7.50 for a small bowl, is almost two dollars more than at Zaytinya and over two dollars more than at the excellent Pita House in Old Town Alexandria. The savory, minty salad, a Lebanese restaurant staple, is also more expensive than at Me Jana's closest geographic competitor, Aladdin's Eatery. Seven dollars for four small falafel patties exceeds the prices at Aladdin's, Pita House, and Zaytinya, and many other items are similarly overpriced.

Price complaints aside, the food does not disappoint. The aforementioned fattouch salad is a strong rendition, featuring well-diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cucumbers doused in olive oil, enlivened by sumac, and complemented by pita chips. The kitchen may wish to ease up a little on the mint and be a bit more generous with the sumac and pita chips, but those are minor issues; the salad is a superb start to a meal. The goat cheese and oranges salad also won approval from its recipient.

The falafel is one of the better versions in the area, superior to the offerings of Aladdin's Eatery or Pasha Café, and on par with the chickpea patties at Zaytinya. No unappealing dryness or crumbly texture here, and every drop of the shallow pool of tahini sauce on the plate deserves to be swept up.

Me Jana's version of fatteh, consisting of two long, thick strips of fried eggplant covered in thick yogurt sauce, chickpeas, and pita chips, reads well on the menu, but loses something in translation from paper to plate. The dish is satisfying, but some aspect of flavor is missing; maybe the omitted element is tanginess in the somewhat bland yogurt, a dusting of zatar, or hot, melted butter (which saturates the fabulous version at the Pita House). Despite the need to revisit the recipe, the dish is worth keeping on the menu.

Cheese-centric plates are crowd-pleasers. The cheese rolls, which are, in essence, manchego- and feta-filled spring rolls, were roundly hailed. Zucchini fritters were enjoyed, but at least one diner opined that the dish fell a hair short of Zaytinya's version. The potato kibbe, potato dumplings filled with melted feta cheese, elicited nothing but positive remarks, and the four potato dumplings come with a small bonus mound of tasty baba gannouj in the center of the plate.

The baba gannouj is also available as a separate small plate, and while it is a high-grade version of the eggplant dip, $6.50 is a D.C., not Arlington, asking price.

Me Jana's staff seems well-trained, and is inarguably enthusiastic. A host or hostess greets patrons with a big smile, and servers are equally cheery. Water glasses are filled quickly after a diner indicates that ice water is fine, bread comes out (and is replaced) quickly, fresh cups of coffee appear without request, and one can expect to be asked at least twice during a meal whether he or she is enjoying the food. Despite a few dishes that are stilll works in progress, the answer will almost certainly be "yes."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just visited me jana few days ago for dinner. very upscale looking restaurant and the menu is quite revealing in their desire to bring true lebanese to arlington. I tried some appetizers i.e. beef kebba, hummos, and falalal..and found it to be excellent. The chef himself came to my table and introduced myself and it was very nice of him to explain the different flavors found in traditional lebanese cooking.

For the entree, i stuck with what i know, best..Shawarma..i went with beef and it was amazing.. succulent juicy beef portions in a warm pita bread.. very good!!! bakalava was very good to..made on premise..

overalll, enjoyed my dinner at me jana. looks to be a great date place, and even afterhours..it was extremely busy on a friday night. pricewise, i was very satisfied w/ the quality of food, and service.. cheers

dcfoodlover

Link to post
Share on other sites

Normally when my wife has a craving for lamb shank, it means me swinging by Layalina on the way home from work and getting an empathetic look from the owners as I grab the carryout ("ah, pregnant wife" the look says. wrong wrong no wrong no. some ladies just want lamb) and rush home.

Me Jana definitely gives Layalina a run for the lamb shanking money. Even the bread condiments alone, with homemade lebneh and zaatar for dipping, are worth going for. We did, unfortunately, have one hiccup that was bad enough that my wife doesn't want to go back and I'm definitely more forgiving of: the lamb shank comes in appetizer and entree portions, $14 and $28 respectively. My wife wanted the appetizer but only said that she wanted the lamb shank, to which the waitress asked "the appetizer?" and my wife heard "an appetizer?" to which she answered "no." Hence a slight shock when the bill came, as I thought maybe we'd been charged for two, but the waitress explained what had happened. Milady thinks that if identical items are present, the waiter should be extremely careful in ascertaining which was ordered. I think responsibility rests heavily on the diner to make oneself clear, so I'm hoping that she'll come around if not by the power of my argument then at least by the power of lamb.

I suppose a quick solution would be to give the two items different names. The larger portion should be the lamb shank and the smaller could be the lamb shiv.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As I sit and type I am enjoying some of the best baba ganough I have ever had. (I have no idea how to spell it no matter how good it is.) There is a smoky under tone going on that brings this dish to a different level. This is my third dinner at Me Jana, tonight was take away, and I have yet to be disappointed. All three times the kibbeh nayeh has been fabulous although I admit I don't know what bad kibbe tastes like. The fries are amazing, back when it was colder the lentil soup was a perfect way to warm up, and the manek could stand up to any sausage anywhere. Most importantly, the pita kicks ass. When dining in the restaurant it comes out as soft, warm, pillowy goodness. I was worried it wouldn't last the car ride home but it remains soft and pillowy. Perfect for dipping in the baba ganough.

Service has always been warm and friendly. The first time I ordered kibbe they double checked that I knew what I was getting into and delighted in my friend's reaction as she tried it for the first time. Dessert hasn't disappointed either.

My only complaint is that the two tops in the back room are very close together so you end up getting to know your neighbors quite well. I recommend reservations, it has been packed each time I have enjoyed their food.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dined here last Friday night and was very pleased. We ended up at a table outside on the sweet outdoor patio. Service was friendly, and even though it lagged at times, the weather was great and we were in no rush to go anywhere, so it worked out well.

The pita is incredible and served with accompaniments, labneh, olives, olive oil and a spice mix (is that zatar? I didn't know). We shared several of the vegetarian hot mezze. The common theme was fried food and more fried food. But despite that, everything was greaseless and perfectly cooked.

Thyme fries - thin, crispy, addictive

Potato kibbe - filled with some kind of spiced feta, also delicious

Cheese rolls - filled with manchego and feta

Fatteh - fried baby eggplant topped with yogurt, chickpeas and pine nuts

Zucchini fritters - with mint and manchego, also very good

The only item I wouldn't order again were the cheese rolls. They are somewhat one note - logs of cheese wrapped in phyllo - and the cheese filling becomes a little overwhelming and heavy after a few bites. It only stood out because the other items were relatively light despite being deep fried. I'm not a huge eggplant fan so I can't really give a good read on that, although my dining companion loved it and even had the two remaining pieces wrapped to go.

Prices are a bit high for what I think of as "small plates": mezze range from about $7-14. Bill for two (inc. tax, tip, glass of wine) came to about $68. But the portions are generous enough that we couldn't finish all the food. Given the quality of the food, the pleasant outdoor seating, and the friendly service, I'd be more than pleased to go back and continue to work my way through the menu.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hillvalley's right about getting to know your neighbors very well when seated at a two-top. In fact, I felt like Julia Sullivan in her aisle seat in The Wedding Singer, except that I kept getting bumped into by the servers. Thankfully, nothing dropped.

The pita did not disappointed, nor did the service. Our server, Bruna, was very attentive to refilling pita straight from the oven: hot, soft, fluffy pillows that does remind one of those served at Zaytinya, but had better flavor and did not harden up so much like its counterpart once they cooled. I was told by Bruna that the zatar mix contained Thyme and Sesame seeds. Other than those two items and a bit of salt, I think, I could not distinguish the other spices. I found the combination of labneh and olive oil spread together on the pita bread very addicting and was very grateful for the multiple pita refills.

At a two-top, there was barely enough room for 2 plates and service, an oversized candle holder (it is pretty romantic though by itself with just the table settings), 4 mezze, 2 water glasses, a basket of pita bread and 1 wine glass. If you plan on ordering several plates, I highly recommend waiting for a bigger table. Or don't drink water or drink wine but no water. Part of the issue is that 2 of the small plates were rectangular. I feel like if I had to draw a diagram of our table, it would resemble a football play in action -- too many arrows and x's and o's.

My dining companion and I split: Hommus ($6); Sea Scallops ($12); Seared Haloumi ($8); and Fatteh ($8.50). For a total of $34.50 pre-tax, there was 1 piece of the haloumi, 1/3 of one strip of fatteh left and two huge swipes of hommus -- certainly enough for two hungry ladies.

The flavors in the sea scallops worked very well -- a blend of lemony acid with a bit of cream smear of a sauce. It was a bit undercooked for me, but made for a real tender bite. Most people would say just right. This dish was probably my favorite, although I would pair it with the sugary-seared pear slices + dates from the haloumi plate. I forget how salty cheeses can be and for some reason, the haloumi flavors didn't work for me. Maybe it was cut a bit too thick for me, or maybe because I miss the flaming cheeses of Chicago-Greektown restaurants. For whatever reason, the sweetness of its fruits couldn't drown or dim the sodium of the natural cheese.

It was definitely packed for a Friday night and a good sign that this area's restaurants are faring better than other big cities. Bruna was super-attentive and patient with us -- great service, as she and another gentleman kept checking on us, despite the place being packed. I'm sure once the patio opens up, it will be great to sit outside, linger and enjoy some mezze.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Given that Me Jana is right around the corner from the office (and RTS isn't open for lunch...yet...one can hope), it has become our go-to spot for business lunches. I have had the pleasure of being included in two such lunches in the past week and have thoroughly enjoyed the meal each time.

We've left the ordering in the capable of hands of our server who suggested the "Journey" - basically several mezze followed by a mixed grill.

The selection was the same both days, consisting of:

Tabouleh - fresh and loaded with parsley (like it should be)

Hommos

Babba Gannouj - as Hillvalley has said before, *smoky* and smooth

Grape Leaves

Fried Kibbeh

Cheese Rolls - fried phyllo-wrapped Feta and Manchego

Makanek - little sausages in a light sauce

Every dish above was very good, the sausages being my personal favorite because of the fragrant spices used in the sauce.

Mixed Grill - A combination of chicken, lamb, and Kafta Kebob - all cooked 'just right' and served with that killer garlic paste

Achta - Phyllo dough layered with a milk pudding, sliced bananas, honey, and pistachio

Halawet el Jeben - Rolled sweet cheese, stuffed with achta, orange blossum syrup and pistachio - OMG - this is SO good, not overly rich, fragrant with the orange blossom, and creamy in the middle. My new favorite dessert!

Everything is brought out family style to be shared by the table. It' s a great way to try several dishes, but not get too full in the process. The only tiny downside is that they don't turn on their bread oven for lunch, so you get standard pita (fresh and warm) instead of the nice pillowy stuff straight from the oven. Not a big deal.

Service is very friendly and efficient, even when dealing with a group of 6 or 8. The owner is always there and very enthusiastic - I think he mentioned that they are going to be adding more Lebanese dishes to the menu soon and (fingers crossed) will be making bread during lunch too! I'll definitely be back to spend my own money sometime soon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed my meal at Me Jana this week. I especially liked the lamb chop, the Hallumi (sp?) with grilled pears and dates, and the hummus with meat. Delicious. My friend and I also ordered the Achta, which she loved, it was overwhelmingly lavender heavy to me, may just have a sensitivity for that. Great atmosphere, prompt and friendly service. We will definitely be back!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did they expand their menu recently (seems to have more seafood)? I don't recall seeing fried smelt before and I must have them. Unfortunately these could use more frying because when you're eating fish with bones and all, you want the bones to be crunchy and not get caught in your throat. The other miss were the zucchini fritters, which tasted like super minty veggie pancakes. But the other dishes were really good, hummus with meat (thick and creamy, just the way I like them), falafel, shish taouk (so tender and flavorful), and chicken shwarma (4 mini sandwiches seasoned fantastically). I also ordered the anchovies with roasted red peppers but it never came out (oh well, we had plenty of food already). Will have to go back and try the branzino.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The owner is always there and very enthusiastic - I think he mentioned that they are going to be adding more Lebanese dishes to the menu soon and (fingers crossed) will be making bread during lunch too! I'll definitely be back to spend my own money sometime soon.

Has anyone been in lately? Do they have the house bread during lunch now?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was in about 3 months ago for lunch and I think I recall them having the house bread. I do like this place, I just don't get in very often and it can be a little pricey for lunch - but it's a good lunch!

Don't know about the bread at lunch as I've only been there for dinner, but I noticed the lack of recent reviews and since I have been there lately, wanted to chime in. We're in the neighborhood and we go here perhaps once a month. The food is always delicious and the service is always good and sometimes outstanding. Love the mixed green salad with creamy goat cheese, oranges, tiny seeds, nuts, and other tasty things - a great mix of textures and tastes. We usually order the seared scallops (more delicately cooked than most places, but cooked through and not fishy, and with a lovely sauce), grape leaves (I can't comment but my husband likes them very much), chicken shish taouk for our son, and a few other things depending on our taste that day. The lentil soup with something green (chard? kale?) is really terrific, great in the cold months, flavorful and filling. The bread is hot and soft and not spongy like purchased pita, and the dips that come with it are addictively tasty - a yogurt spread, zaatar spices (I dip in the yogurt and then the spices), and good olive oil, plus some pungent olives.

Definitely recommended. We've brought family of various ages and they've all been happy here.

Also, we came on Christmas day, and everything was as good as usual or better, with extra attentive service.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a nice meal here the other day - the dining room is quite pretty, even if the 2-tops are uncomfortably close together (and small!). I really like the opening dish of bread accompaniments, but wish our bread had been warm - it's very light and good, but I imagine that the warm, fresh-from-the-oven version would stand out. The various kabobs (we tried the mixed grill) are well seasoned and very good, but I didn't think that they were much better than other dedicated kabob places - I'd say that here you would want to focus on the mezze and the more exotic offerings. The baba gannouj is silky, smoky, and addictive and the eggplant fatteh is very interesting, with the fried element tamed by the yogurt, but the overall texture kicked up with the crunchy pieces. The falafel and potato kibbeh were both expertly fried and delicious. They have a quite decent mojito and a generous, shareable version of baklava (four wee pieces, easy to parcel out!). The people around us had various interesting-looking salads - colorful with lots of tasty-looking bits - and soups and non-kabob meats that I would like to try in the future.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Me Jana has a pleasant outdoor venue for dinner on a nice evening like tonight. Just enough foot traffic passes by to make it feel like you're part of the civilized world, but not so much as to make you feel like you're eating on display.

We filled the table with mezze -- hummus topped with meat, sanbousik, soujok, fried kibbee, kibbee nayee, kafta kabob and labne, and plenty of bread. The bread was soft and fresh, which is important, and the hummus topped with meat was worth a repeat. And kudos for having kibbee nayee on the everyday menu, but I've had better at various places. The rest of the mezza was above average, but not worth the detour from Layalina a few miles south.

Service was superior, but price was on the high side -- about 7-8 total mezze dishes with two glasses of wine for two people ended up just north of $100.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Service was superior, but price was on the high side -- about 7-8 total mezze dishes with two glasses of wine for two people ended up just north of $100.

A Lebanese coworker of mine was appalled to hear me say I thought Me Jana was expensive, just appalled!

Glad to hear I'm not the only who thought so. B)

Link to post
Share on other sites

A Lebanese coworker of mine was appalled to hear me say I thought Me Jana was expensive, just appalled!

Glad to hear I'm not the only who thought so. B)

I'm surprised that your co-worker thinks that. My impression is that the quality-to-price ratio is much better at Lebanese Butcher, somewhat better at Layalina, and about equal at Lebanese Taverna.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Me Jana was a wee bit expensive too. I went for my first visit last night before a movie at Courthouse, and wasn't whelmed. But it is totally possible we didn't order well. Hubby got chicken schwarma and it was little mini pitas with chicken, while tasty was not what he expected and it wasn't very easy to stuff any of the pickled veggies, tomatoes or etc in the mini pitas as they were pressed and grilled. Pita was fine, I have a strong preference for more crispy pita, like at Taverna and Zaytinya, but that is just personal preference. Hummus was good, very smooth and creamy.

I got beef shwarma, which funny enough did not come in mini pitas it was more like what hubby was expecting. I didn't really want the pita, I wanted the meat and pickled veggies which were very good, on the menu they say everything comes with garlic whip, I was really afraid that meant mashed potatoes, but actually is garlic sauce that is frothy. But the pita was so soft you wouldn't have been able to eat it like a sandwich anyway. I also got the Loubieh Bie-ziet I think it is called, basically green bean, tomato, garlic salad. This was really good, and I liked the flavor. I get this a lot from the Lebanese Tavern Market.

The problem is this same exact meal would have been about half that price at the Lebanese Taverna Market. With those 4 items, one soda one ice tea we were at $48 that seems a bit steep to me. I have to say the grilled lamb chops that went by us looked excellent, so maybe if we ordered other things it would have been a better dollar to food ratio, but even the salads were quite pricey in my mind. We were trying to get quick things to catch our movie, so we hadn't really ordered meal meal things. I wouldn't rule this place out by any means, but it isn't going to be on the top of my list of places to revisit soon. They do have lovely outdoor seating though. Next time I will do more research before ordering, as there seemed to be some good looking things that we didn't order coming to places around us. And the flavors of everything were good, so I think the cooking knowledge and experience is there and strong.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Business must be good - they have taken over half of the Robeks space next door and are expanding. That is not a huge amount of additional space. I am not sure if this means more tables or if they have other ideas.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit, Me Jana is one of the few Middle Eastern restaurants that is actually a sit-down restaurant with service and decor. Too many of them are lunch counter types (Jerusalem and the former Lebanese Butcher) or corners of grocery stores (Mediterranean Bakery and Mediterranean Gourmet Market). A sit-down restaurant serving quality Middle Eastern fare is something this area needs more of -- Me Jana, Layalina, the original Lebanese Taverna, and soon, Mount Lebanon....

Link to post
Share on other sites

Had quite a few dishes tonight: 1. Braised Lamb Shank 2. Chicken Liver 3. Chicken Shawarma 4. Crab Cakes 5. Falafel 6. Fried Kebbeh 7. Ground Lamb on Pita - Lahem Be Ajeen 8. Smelt.

The only thing that I didn't care for were the crab cakes - very thin and too minty. The chicken livers sauteed with garlic and jalepenos were surprisingly good. The standards like kibbeh and falafel are as good as any I've had. I think the smelt can be fried a little crispier. I really liked the variety and I would've ordered more food if our waiter didn't stop me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm developing a love-hate relationship with Me Jana....I love it when I eat there, and I hate it when I leave. Tonight was par for the course, with mezze offerings of kibbee nayeh (of course), tabouli, hummus with meat, lubieh and calamari (prepared grilled and tasting like a nice tiny octopus). I could nit-pick a little -- I find the tabouli slightly on the tart side, and overall the portions are a bit small -- but this is very nice Lebanese food in a very nice setting. I have yet to even try the non-mezze portion of the menu, but it's on my list of future adventures....

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can report that the lambchops are great, the owner and staff are always friendly and the garlic whip is awesome!

-Wendy

Since it opened I've eaten sporadically at Me Jana.  I was introduced to the owners at its beginning.  They are very nice.  The staff is professional and friendly.  Many of them have been there for years.

Of its varied menu, the lamb chops are simply superb.  They were superb a few years ago and superb this evening.  That first bite simply melts in your mouth.  Its not for me to compare Me Jana with other Lebanese restaurants in the area, as unfortunately I don't get to many of them these days, but of its many dishes the lamb chops, offered as a smaller dish or an entree are simply among the best I've ever had--maybe the best.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Since it opened I've eaten sporadically at Me Jana.  I was introduced to the owners at its beginning.  They are very nice.  The staff is professional and friendly.  Many of them have been there for years.

Of its varied menu, the lamb chops are simply superb.  They were superb a few years ago and superb this evening.  That first bite simply melts in your mouth.  Its not for me to compare Me Jana with other Lebanese restaurants in the area, as unfortunately I don't get to many of them these days, but of its many dishes the lamb chops, offered as a smaller dish or an entree are simply among the best I've ever had--maybe the best.

I have never had a bad meal at Me Jana.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

"Something European; not Italian. Maybe something healthy - I'd love to have some good food tonight." That was my young dining companion's response when I asked him for his hunger level ("6"), and a rough sketch of the evening's meal.

I've been to Me Jana somewhere between three and five times, and it has been remarkably consistent - never outstanding, but always very good - and last night it was exactly as I expected, with the weather providing a patio bonus.

A basket of warm housemade pita is served with a small trio of olives, herbed oil, and a very refrigerated, sour cream-like rendition of labneh. I washed it down with an Efes Pilsner ($5.99) - I only took a cursory glance at the beer list, but (assuming it was on there) I remember wishing I'd ordered the double-roasted dark lager.

Hommus with Meat ($9.50) started disappearing before I could get much of it. I've had better hommus here in the past - this one was quickly congealing, the sauteed beef was cooked to death, and the pine nuts were large and aggressive.

This was served alongside an excellent but ice-box cold Fassolia ($7.50), large lima beans stewed with tomato, garlic, and cilantro. I'm not certain this was house made, but if it was, it was impressive because it was extremely balanced (which is hard to do well in small quantities).

The dish of the evening, at least to me, was the Kibbeh Nayeh ($12.99) which was just perfect with its shaved radishes. In theory, the version at Lebanese Butcher is better, but Me Jana's has more flavor and a more integrated burghul texture.

An appetizer of Beef Shawarma ($10.50) was also extremely overcooked (though not as thoroughly leather-like as the beef with the hummos); yet, it was seasoned well, and came in enough of its juices that it was very pleasant - also very useful as the coup de gráce for a hungry sixteen-year-old. If you order this, ask for a little extra tahini which, when mixed with the juices and chased by a pickled radish, makes this dish complete.

Its foil was the Spinach Pie ($7.50), or as Matt called them, Spinach Hamantaschen (well, why not - it was Rosh Hashanah) - four fateyers of good, acidic spinach served slightly warm, and just the right amount of green to call this a healthy dinner.

A solid showing for Me Jana which is maintained in Italic.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/5/2013 at 5:46 PM, DonRocks said:
The dish of the evening, at least to me, was the Kibbeh Nayeh ($12.99) which was just perfect with its shaved radishes. In theory, the version at Lebanese Butcher is better, but Me Jana's has more flavor and a more integrated burghul texture.

(Applause.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm so glad you made that post Don, because I was to start a thread on where the best kibbeh nayeh could be found in town.  I used to love the Zaytinya version but the last few times I've had it it's been very bland.  I think the last good version I had was when Mike Isabella was there.

I've never been to Me Jana but now it looks like I need to make a trip.  Thanks!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Meh exactly. Service was rushed even though there was nobody else there. Each dish seemed to lack, umm... something. Right around the corner from me, but unlikely that I will go back. Lebanese taverna is tastier, and no need to deal with rushed service. On the upside, the greeter at the door was very respectful. Btw two friends who ate together at another time got sick on the kibbeh nidayeh.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bruce can probably elaborate on this, but I never knew that "Mejana" or "Ya Mejana" was a traditional Lebanese folk ballad used to welcome guests.

Screenshot 2015-08-03 at 10.32.00.png

I also never realized (hence, never tagged the thread) that Me Jana caters. (If anyone ever needs a catered event, you can find any "Catering" tag and click on it, and you'll get a very comprehensive list of restaurants that cater.

I'm still toying with the idea of doing away with our Catering Forum because it's our least-used forum - Caterers don't realize how much they're potentially losing by not taking two minutes to write about themselves there, but you can only lead a horse to water; you can't force them to drink. Thing is, I don't even think the horses realize the water is there. It's a shame, but ... <shoulder shrug>.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ate here with a friend a few Fridays ago and had a delightful meal.  We split the mezze platter - everything I like on a plate, including fried cheese. The server was really helpful with choosing wines - I've always been skeptical of Lebanese wines but she brought us tastings and my friend and I each found one that we liked.

Dessert was ache, a milk pudding that I wanted to crawl into and sleep in.  So, so good.

Can't believe I hadn't been here before - won't make that mistake again. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll begin by noting that it is not my intention to die tonight or anytime soon, however, should such an unfortunate fate befall me, then I am happy to report that I had what would be my wished-for final meal.

Lady KN and I postponed our Valentines Day dinner out to Saturday, and Me Jana was our chosen venue. The first thing to hit the table was the standard trio of za'atar with olive oil, plus lebneh, plus olives, along with a basket of piping hot pita bread. I love beginning our feast in this way, allowing for a casual nibble as we conversed our way across the menu.

We next moved to the appetizers of hummus with meat, plus kibbeh nayyeh, plus sauteed chicken livers, and all of these were delicious. The hummus with meat featured identifiable chunks of meat with spices, atop a house-made hummus with pleasant, creamy quality. The chicken livers were big and juicy and nicely pink in the middle. The kibbeh nayyeh came in a cold stone bowl that resembled a shallow mortar bowl, surrounded by shaved radish, mint, and scallions. It was a nicely meaty generous portion, and almost creamy smooth. My board moniker was well-honored by this namesake dish.

We could have stopped at the appetizers, and we were certainly getting full, but the main courses arrived barely before we finished the starters. Lady KN enjoyed the sea bass special, and I had the lamb chops. She was all smiles with her dish, and I was licking my fingers after four very meaty and flavorful lamb-sicles were devoured. As we were wrapping up our meal, the owner stopped by the table for a few pleasantries in Arabic, and we promised to return again soon.

Four years since the last write-up is somewhat surprising, so I encourage my fellow Rockwellians to go here and enjoy our area's best Lebanese restaurant.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...