August 06, 2013


 I'd heard plenty of raves about ilili, so I suggested it for one of our quarterly group lunches. ilili mixes Lebanese flavors with some American touches, and always gets high marks from my fellow foodies. (They also participate in Restaurant Week-- a great time to try them!)

We were a group of 12, but our server Trevor handled us without missing a beat.We started with some nonalcoholic drinks: iced coffee made with cold brew coffee, Lebanese simple syrup, strawberry basil lemonade, which smelled amazing and green lemonade made with lemons and limes- all fantastic. 

We started with apps for the table: hummus, doused with a lovely pool of olive oil and a sprinkling of sumac, thick, tangy labne (yogurt spread with herbs and olive oil), hummus, Phoenician fries (with a cracktastic garlic dip), and babaganoush (possibly the best I ever had).
Creamy hummus

This tangy good!
Blurry but still scrumptious labne
Phoenecian fries

Babaganoush (heavenly!)
Of all of these, the babaganoush was hands down my favorite. Everything was delicious. but the baba stood out by a long shot. A long, smooth, silky, garlicky shot. We actually ordered more, because this went quickly.

The soft, fluffy, warm pita came in wonderful waves, helping us scoop up every delicious bite. Surrender to the carby goodness!

We also ordered pitchers of red and white sangria for the table. It was a refreshing lift on an oppressively hot & humid day. They were both tasty, sweet but not in an overpowering way, but I preferred the red sangria.
Our entrées were all delicious, and too numerous to detail, so I'll just show you.....

Vegetarian moussaka, creatively arranged

Their famous brussels sprouts-- pretty good (sliced grapes are a nice touch!)

Lamb shank sandwich

Lamb dip au jus

Falafel wrap

My lamb burger

And you KNOW we got desserts: a turmeric shortbread (not my favorite), their homemade 'candy bar' (despite the overwhelming sesame flavor, I kept going back for more), and everyone's favorite-- the

"Candy" bar 

Show-stealing chocolate bread pudding

Turmeric shortcake

 Overall, they sent out crowd-pleasing dishes for everyone. I think my lamb burger was a bit dry, not my favorite part of the meal, but I'm also not someone who eats a lot of lamb. I was a huge fan of all the non-alcoholic drinks, the appetizers, especially the labne and the babaganoush. It's great for groups or just a small outing, and it's definitely a nice change of pace for your palate!
236 5th Ave
New York, NY 10001
(212) 683-2929

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