Almost from the time we moved to Manhattan’s Financial District, we’ve been wanting to eat at Alfanoose, a Lebanese restaurant in the heart of the neighborhood on Maiden Lane. Recently, we were heading home after a shopping jaunt to Tribeca, and it seemed like the right time to stop in for a meal of good Middle Eastern food.
Now, many people I am sure know what I mean when I say “Middle Eastern food“. Depending on where you are, it might be called “Turkish” or “Lebanese” or Arab or even “Israeli“. But for those who haven’t had the pleasure, I am talking about falafel and shawarma, hummus and baba ghanoush, dolma (stuffed grape leaves) and tabouli.
One of the great things about this cuisine is that, like many Asian cuisines, it is reliably dairy free. Yes, some dishes that you find in restaurants like Alfanoose will have spinach pie, which is made with feta cheese. And beware that sometimes you will find yogurt in dishes (although if you see a white sauce in use, it may actually be tahini, made from sesame seeds, not yogurt – so it is worth it to ask). But generally speaking, it is easy to eat Middle Eastern, avoid dairy, and have a fabulous meal.
And our meal at Alfanoose definitely fell under the category of fabulous. I had a lamb shawarma platter with salad and baba ghanoush, and a side dish of stuffed grape leaves. I feasted, enjoying the spices (hmm, was that mint I tasted?) with which the lamb was prepared, the salad (I am not really a lettuce lover, but this one was mighty satisfying) and of course the grape leaves. Therese went for a vegetarian meal, having roasted cauliflower, salad and hummus. I think her side was spinach pie, although I don’t honestly remember. Everything was covered in garlic and lemon and good olive oil and spices. And of course, there was plenty of pita bread – I used strips of this thin bread to make little sandwiches of baba ghanoush, lamb and lettuce – wonderful!
We loved it, had enough leftovers for another meal, and the price was reasonable. Alfanoose is sure to be a staple of our restaurant eating in the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, we have already been back a second time – yesterday I was working and knew I wouldn’t have the energy to make dinner, so I texted Therese “how about Alfanoose?” and her response said it all: “Absolutely.”