Restaurant News & Reviews

Tabbouleh, anyone?

Got a hankering for hummus? Pining for pita? Craving kebabs? You'll find satisfaction at four -- count 'em, four -- Middle Eastern restaurants that have recently opened or are about to open in the Triangle.

At first blush, the menu at Baba Grill (8201-107 Brier Creek Parkway.; 806-5700; www.babagrill.com) looks like the usual Lebanese offering. You'll find hummus, tabbouleh and baba ghanoush, as well as all the usual sandwich suspects. Here, however, your sandwich isn't served on pita but on lavash, the light, crisp flatbread that's favored in Iran. House-baked lavash, it turns out, is a specialty at Baba Grill, which opened last month in Brier Creek Commons.

The restaurant's other claim to fame is its broad selection of kebabs. Beef, lamb, chicken, seasoned ground beef, even salmon and shrimp kebabs are served with your choice of lavash, Greek salad, saffron rice, or a combination. Look a little closer at the menu, and you'll even discover a few locally hard-to-find Iranian side dishes such as torshi (Persian pickles) and paneer with sabzi (a fetalike cheese served with herbs) to go with your meal. Baba Grill is a casual eatery with counter service It's open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A casually romantic atmosphere and an ambitious menu that includes both Middle Eastern and contemporary American fare have proved to be a successful formula for the family-run Solomon's (www.solomons-restaurant.com). Victor and Debbie Khoury, their son Solomon (the restaurant's namesake and chef) and Victor's brother Elias just opened their third Solomon's last week in Brierdale Shopping Center (10410 Moncreiffe Road; 313-1381). And they're not finished yet. A fourth Solomon's is slated to open in January in Haddon Hall Shopping Center in Apex.

The Khourys aren't the only family with expansion plans. The Saleh family, owners of Neomonde (www.neomonde.com), are planning to open an upscale Middle Eastern restaurant in downtown Raleigh, next door to Riviera on Wilmington Street, in the spring. I'll have more details as the opening nears.

Greg Cox can be reached at ggcox@bellsouth.net. Get more restaurant news and comment on your favorites at the Epicurean blog, http://blogs.newsobserver.com/epicurean

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