Cost: $16 per person
My friend Kate and I were debating about places to get a bite the other day. We were up in the air between a few Thai places, a brewpub or two, and a few middle eastern places. We finally decided on this Lebanese place in Lincoln Park, Fattoush. I'd just seen it on Check Please the week before, and it gave me a hankering.
The restaurant is pretty small, seating only about 40 at a time. There's an upstairs area with a smattering of tables, and a few pillow filled areas where you can sit around a thin tin table. We opted for one of the pillow seating options, and just so happened to get seated next to some good buddies of mine (Dicky, Matt, Scotty, and Brad). They were on their way to Park West for a concert and stopped here for dinner first. I think when we got there it was perfect timing. They take reservations, and you should probably make one for a weekend dinner.
The service was really friendly and almost a cooperative effort. The food came at a leisurely pace which was great since that's what we asked of the waiter. With all the small dishes coming our way, they did a good job of clearing empty plates and glasses too.
The food was very reasonably priced. Most appetizers were around $5, the combo entree platter (for two) was $22, and the desserts were $3. The portions were solid for the price, and it was BYOB. It should also be mentioned that most of the menu is gluten free.
We started the meal off with some Hummus and Batata Harra (spicy fried potatoes). The hummus was delicious. I really liked how it had some texture, wasn't overly creamy, and was topped with a tasty olive oil. The Batata Harra was topped with a delicious spicy garlic sauce, but I wish there was more sauce. There was one moment when we needed to clear table space and tossed the last few potatoes in with the hummus. Now, I don't know how many of you have ever dipped your french fries in a frosty, but it's basically fast food heaven. This was the Lebanese version of that.
Brad with the Batata Harra
For the entree we got the combo platter including the Kafta Kebab, Kalayeh, Shish Tawouk. It was also served with rice, lentils, and a veggie combo of onions, broccoli, and sweet potato. The Kafta Kebab had a ton of flavor. My favorite of the three was the Kalayeh which was a sliced beef stewed in a tomato sauce. It was fantastically tender. The Shish Tawouk (grilled spicy chicken) had an interesting spice profile, but I definitely preferred the beef dishes. It was a nice relief to get properly cooked veggies and potatoes instead of the overly mushy mess you might get at other restaurants. The rice and lentils were on the plainer side, but they were topped with crispy onions and raisins that combined for some nice flavor and texture.
The Combo Platter
For dessert we got some Baklava, Rice Pudding, and Maamoul. The baklava was made with cashews and served in small cylinders rather than cubes. The rice pudding was topped with nuts and pomegranate seeds to shake things up a bit. My favorite here was the Maamoul (a date filled cookie). I'm not sure how I enjoyed a gluten free cookie this much, but I really did.
The Rice Pudding
Fattoush is full of bold flavors in a great atmosphere made for bringing a few bottles of wine and hanging out with friends all night long. When the bill came I was impressed with how much food we got for our money. It's also nice to eat at a place that prides itself on gluten free without feeling like you're eating chemically altered bread products all night. I'm giving Fattoush 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.