La Saj Lebanese Bistro
La Saj’s menu covers the usual suspects in the Lebanese kitchen. The appetizer sampler ($23.95), which can easily satisfy four, includes a silky hummus, suitably smoky baba ghanoush, vegetarian or meat-stuffed grape leaves, fried kibbeh stuffed with meat, onions and pine nuts, falafel, labneh (house-made yogurt), a fresh but a bit drippy tabbouleh, and cheese and vegetables. Unlike many of its competitors, La Saj wisely serves the meza on separate small plates instead of a large platter where the ingredients tend to run into one another. With warm puffy pita rounds and their accompanying sharp garlic sauce, the sampler makes for a splendid start to the meal. Mains average around $14, with lamb preparations, such as grilled lamb steak kastalata, at the high end of the price continuum. As with most Middle Eastern spots, La Saj is vegetarian-friendly. One of the best bets is madjara, an earthy mélange of lentils and cracked wheat. The Awadas are also children-friendly, offering gastronomically challenged youngsters all-American chicken tenders and even hamburgers. The small wine list, beginning at $20 for a decent Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, covers most price levels. The fact that the list is disproportionately red (including some from Lebanon) comes as no surprise, since, in general, the assertively seasoned Middle Eastern cuisine can overwhelm whites.