Shaddai Fine Lebanese Cuisine: A Culinary Oasis in a Pinecrest Strip Mall
Tucked away in the corner of a Pinecrest strip mall is the urban culinary oasis Shaddai Fine Lebanese Cuisine. You'll find three floor lamps of varying heights and colors, three wooden camel statues, and a wall adorned with three swords. Nearby are three booths. Are these trios symbolic of the Holy Trinity? Perhaps.
Photo by billwisserphoto.com Lamb kabob.
The Bethlehem-born owner, Anton Sammour, known as Chef Tony, has been cooking Lebanese food since he was 8 years old. His wife, Elizabeth, who works the front of the house, is from Guatemala. You might remember the couple from Arabian Nights in Doral, which closed a few years ago. After that, Tony spent two years and a lot of money trying to open a new Arabian Nights on Miracle Mile. It didn't work out. Last June, he suffered a stroke and lost feeling in his hand. Elizabeth had a dream in which the Lord spoke to her and said, "Tony will be OK. Good luck is coming, and you have to name the new restaurant Shaddai," which translates to "God almighty."
Prophetic Elizabeth will most likely greet you with a smile and instantly remember if you have been there before. As you peruse the menu, a basket of freshly toasted pita chips and a tomato and eggplant "salsa" will likely arrive. It is an edible example of your host family's cultures. It is full of fresh flavors and sets the tone for the meal. Though most of the menu features traditional dishes, it breaks the mold when it comes to this baba ghannouj meets chips 'n' salsa.
The appetizers, or mezzes, are not to be missed and are arguably the highlight of the meal. Try the appetizer combo, a choice of five apps or salads for $30. It roughly translates to five small plates for the price of four.
The most angelic of the starters is the jawaneh, Lebanese-style chicken wings marinated in fresh garlic, olive oil, and lemon, cooked to a golden hue, and crowned with a thick pale-yellow sauce. The result is a delectable wing that's crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.