|Le Pine's lentil soup.|
Like most Bay Harbor Islands restaurants, Le Pine opened with little fanfare. That was about four months ago. People in the area know about it likely because it's a sizable space that's located on Kane Concourse, so it's hard to miss while driving by. The interior décor won't win any design awards, but the tables are neatly dressed in linen and the chairs are comfortable enough.
The Mediterranean menu boasts traditional dishes during lunchtime -- from falafels and "baba ghannouge" to shawarma and fried kibbeh balls. But the Lebanese-owned establishment also features many of that country's traditional treats (foul moudamas, malfouf, and labneh to name a few), and the dinner menu adds all sorts of meat, fish, and poultry entrées.
For lunch, I concentrated on the basics: falafel, hummus, chicken shawarma, lentil soup, Greek salad, and malfouf. All but the malfouf passed muster.
|The malfouf was bland.|
Malfouf ($6) brought a quartet of cigar-shaped stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, beef, and clove-like spices -- a bland rendition. But hummus ($7), falafel ($9), and chicken shawarma ($10) sandwiches were all much better. The falafel is a blend of chickpeas and fava beans, which gives it a bit more depth of flavor than a straight garbanzo ball. The hummus is pretty much textbook. The chicken shawarma sandwich brings moist morsels of spiced meat rolled with pickles. As a sandwich, it's the best of the three.
All the sandwiches are good, though, because Le Pine makes its own pita bread -- fluffy, soft, and warm. Spicy sticks of turnip come alongside most, and sandwiches also come with a choice of soup, salad, or French fries. Go with the soup ($4 à la carte), a hearty purée of lentils with caramelized onions on top -- a very flavorful version.
|Falafel is made from chickpeas and fava beans.|
|Chicken souvlaki was our favorite.|
Our "Greek" salad ($8) lacked tomatoes and contained quite a bit of romaine lettuce -- not a traditional component. Crumbles of feta, black olives, cucumber, onions, and vinaigrette, with the lettuce, make for a tasty medley nonetheless.Lee KleinGreek salad wasn't Greek enough.
The food is fresh, the ambiance is spacious, the staff is friendly, and the prices are fair. Le Pine is a fine addition for Bay Harbor Island residents (and Bal Harbour shoppers).
|The pita is soft and fluffy.|
|The dining room, with char marks on the wall from baking the pita.|
Le Pine Mediterranean Cuisine1052 Kane Concourse, Bay Harbor Islands305-861-1059Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.
|A colorful hummus sandwich.|
1052 Kane Concourse, Bay Harbor Islands, FL