Food For Thought — March 18, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Lebanese Cuisine Comes to Midtown

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In the up and coming neighborhood of Midtown East, the new bi-level Lebanese restaurant Yara, brings in a fresh new flavor that was previously missing. While there are delicious classic American staples in the area like The Smith, The Sea Fire Grill, and popular steakhouse Smith & Wollensky, ethnic restaurants are woefully lacking. The warm and elegant Yara gives diners multiple areas to cozy up, from their lounge to their private dining area, or even seating next to one of their three blazing fireplaces. Pops of teal and orange give some extra pizzaz to the space, which was founded by former VP of Porsche Jacob Harb, who wanted a restaurant featuring food reminiscent of his childhood.

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The menu here is comprised salads, mezzes (or small plates) and entrees, which makes it a great spot if you plan on trying many dishes and sharing. We started off with their Grilled Haloumi and Moussakaa, the former of which came with drizzled olive oil and tomatoes, and was the satisfying, salty grilled tastiness we come to expect from haloumi. The Moussakaa stole the show though — comprised of fried eggplant, chickpeas, tomato, onion and garlic, this appetizer was so flavorful and delectable, especially when spooned atop Yara’s warm pita bread.

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Their cocktail list is no joke, either. With only eight specialties on the menu, it stands to show that short is sweet. Each cocktail seemed to be crafted to perfection — you won’t find any overly sweet and syrupy drinks here. The Claret Snap was as equally visually appealing as it was satiating, comprised of fresh lemon, honey, Jefferson’s Small Batch Bourbon and a red wine float. For something more light and refreshing, the Fragaria, made with fresh strawberries, lime, Flor de Cana Rum and topped with Prosecco, is a great option.

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The Mixed Grill is the best choice if you want to try an assortment of meats. It comes with chicken, grilled filet mignon, and kefta (seasoned ground meat) skewers, alongside grilled vegetables and rice, all of which is great, but the kefta was our favorite. To accompany the Mixed Grill, we also ordered Okra, which has sautéed okra, lamb, rice and tomato. It was a simple, yet well done dish that went really well over rice. The best part of this meal is that although we left full, all of it was relatively healthy. It’s also a great spot for those with dietary restrictions, as there are 18 vegan dishes on the menu.

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There’s quite a few dishes we plan to make a return trip to try, including their Beef Hummus and Booza! Plus, it might be our new go-to after work drinks spot.

 

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