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Veggie Plate

Veggie Plate

A short while ago we checked out SnauBar Lebanese Cuisine to celebrate the new job of Cokebaby’s brother.

The restaurant is located in the Dresden Row mall (the one with Pete’s Frootique). Originally, there were rumours that a second location of Kababji was going to open up in the spot but I guess plans fell through.

SnauBar, pronounced snowbar, means pine (according to my Lebanese in-law who was with us that night). The name itself is a fun play on the word and the greenish mosaic tiled back-splash behind bar emphasizes it. The interior is elegant enough with pretty murals in archways along the walls. However, there’s something about the stark white of just about everything else that made the place seem kind of sterile. It certainly doesn’t have the the same luxe feel of Mezza Restaurant but I’m in a fight with that particular establishment right now.

We were the only people in the place and, in a way, it was fortunate for us as the server was not exactly on his game. That said, he was pleasant and had the legitimate excuse that he had only been working there for a few days. While there were ample choices for cold and hot mezza to share we decided to start with appetizers for the group of six and then move on to individual main courses. (As a side note, the website boasts “Mezza & Arrak Tuesdays” but there was no sign of what that meant when we arrived. And, yes, it was Tuesday.)

For drinks, I started with the  SnauBar-Tini (Pears vodka, white cranberry juice & lime cordial) followed by a glass of Villa Mura Valpollicello with the meal. The martini was very yummy while the wine was pretty mediocre and, in retrospect, a glass of white would have gone down better with the meal.

For appetizers we shared: chicken livers (served with pomegranate molasses), kebbeh (cracked wheat and ground beef, stuffed with more meat, onions, and pinenuts), and frogs provincial (fried frog legs served with garlic, cilantro, and lemon juice). Prices ranged between $6-10 each.

It was all very tasty but the livers were a bit dry and the promise of pomegranate molasses was lost on our palates. It was a first for me in terms of the frog legs and I’d be willing to try them again. The idea that they’re anything like chicken is completely misleading though. While they have the texture of poultry, they’re actually moister, and the taste is quite mild.

The special on the menu is described as: “A homemade Lebanese meal. Prepared fresh daily.” What it fails to mention is that it’s just something off the menu, or at least it was in this case, rather than a special dish made by the chef for that day. Most of the in-laws went with the special which turned out to be chicken taouk (marinated chicken breast with garlic and Lebanese spices).

I opted for the veggie plate (grape leaves, veggie kebbe, falafel, and spinach fatayer) and Cokebaby had the lamb shawarma (grilled sliced lamb with garlic and shawarma sauce). I found the falafel a bit dry but otherwise everything else on the plate was devoured appreciatively.

All the mains were served with the choices of rice or potatoes, AND tabbouleh or fattoush salads, AND hummus (chickpea dip) or baba ganouj (roast eggplant dip). Prices ranged between $14-19 each. The meal was delicious and quite filling. Everything was also clearly fresh made. Another bonus is that most of their produce is organic.

Overall, while SnauBar isn’t quite the upscale restaurant that it seems to want to be (and they could have been a bit more generous with the pita bread), the food is tasty and reasonably priced for a nice meal out. Each couple spent between $50-70 before tip and that included at least one alcoholic beverage each.

Compared with Mezza Restaurant the food is about equal but the atmosphere isn’t quite as upscale or warm. However, it does win points for the service which is at least passable and friendly, and the food made it to the table without an arduous wait which is more than I can say for my previous experiences with Mezza. Did I mention that I’m not happy with the level of service at Mezza?

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