Jacksonville, FL 32256
Post Christmas celebration last night at Mandaloun with my usual friends. After we were seated our person of the night served us water and quickly brought us baskets of warm Pita with dipping oil. The bread was fresh, warm the oil light and salty on the tongue. There are so many wonderful choices on the menu it is difficult to decide, we started with many appetizer, Foul Madames a delightful combination of Fava beans specially prepared with garlic olive oil and lemon juice. This warm dish brought out all the flavors of the Fava beans, there was enough for everyone to taste test and still have extra.
Another warm choice was the Spinach Pie or Fatayer, a triangular pastry stuffed with spinach, feta cheese, onion and pine nuts. I do not enjoy the consistency of this dish, but the flavor is sure to satisfy.
No Middle Eastern feast would be complete with out Grape Leaves, Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and Kebbe we order all of them, plus a Greek salad. It was easy to sample each item, difficult to decide which was most enjoyable. The Fava beans are high on my list, as well as the Baba Ghanoush with the grape leave meat nicely seasoned.
When it came time for the entrees one of the owners assisted us in our decision, pronouncing the dish as it should be, explaining the level of spiciness, taste and flavors of what we were selecting. This made life easy, what was not easy was the actual decision. But here we go. I am not going to bore you with all the ingredients, that way if this review sparks you please go and try something you have not tasted before. Just know that nothing was left, dishes were well constructed, outstanding offerings showcase Middle Eastern and Lebanese food .
The Shish Taouk or grilled chicken breast cubed and marinated in special spices. This is quite a bit more than just ckicken, very flavorful with a light flavor, veggies cooked to perfection.
Soujok, a spicy Lebanese lamb sausage with fresh tomatoes. This is listed as a hot Messe, but we ordered it as a entrée. This turned out to be the surprise dish of the evening. Everyone wanted it. The rice served with the entrée was probably the best tasting rice I have experienced in any other Middle Eastern restaurant in town.
The Mixed Grill is a most flavorful combination of grilled skewers. One lahm meshwe, one shish taouk and one kafta meshwe, and grilled eggplant. The meat is moist and melt in the mouth tender.
Kafta A’ antably, a charcoal-grilled kebab of minced lamb mixed with parsley, onion and chili spices. Another wonderful spiced meat dish served with large slices of grilled eggplant and fresh mixed vegetables, yellow rice.
And no meal of this caliber would be complete with out Bakavla. Wonderful sweet, full of an ample amount of nuts and the honey held it together on this dessert. My recommendation, get your own, don’t share.
Overall I give this spot high marks, the quality and quantity of food received for $$ spent is well worth you time and money. They do offer lunch, as always the prices on the lunch menu are a tad lower than dinner. We found the staff and owners most welcoming to the guests which is always a plus. So as I often say, I encourage you to gather friends, family and loved ones and go have a great meal at this spot.