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October 2003

Pita Platter

Middle Eastern food in Munich

Kaulbachstrasse 86
Tel. (089) 33 37 38
Open daily from 6 pm
U3/6 to Giselastrasse

You may be excused for thinking that you have stumbled into the lounge of a private home when confronted with the blaring television that often dominates the ground-floor dining room at Arabesk. Don’t be put off, though. Simply head downstairs to the large, subterranean dining room, beautifully furnished in the Arabian-Nights style with carved wooden ceilings, decorative tiled surfaces and ornate bronze lamps. Here you can settle into one of the comfortable dining nooks or take a seat at a long table—preferably with a good view of the small stage where live music and belly-dancing are performed—and begin scrutinizing the generous selection of warm and cold appetizers. Classics such as hummus, tabbouleh and falafel will certainly not disappoint, but anyone wishing to delve deeper into the world of Lebanese cuisine may prefer to order the spicy m’hammara (€ 4.50), a mixture of ground red pepper, pistachio, walnut and pomegranate syrup. Served with warm, albeit somewhat dry, pita bread, the traditional masa (€ 12), or mixed appetizer plate, is also a good choice. Grilled meats and fish make up the majority of main-course offerings and, while they are expertly seasoned, some, like the grilled lamb cutlet (€ 12.50), are on the tough side. Arabesk caters well to vegetarian diners. In addition to the many appetizers—often a meal in themselves—the three meatless main dishes, one of which is eggplant mousaka (€ 11), will not leave vegetarians feeling neglected. Fragrant, long-grain rice studded with peas and carrots accompanies most main dishes. Dessert is equally gratifying. Typically dripping in honey and syrup baklava can be overwhelmingly sweet. Arabesk’s homemade version, however, emphasizes the rich nuttiness of pistachios, which are tightly clustered like green jewels inside a thin layer of flaky pastry (€ 3.50). For a true jolt of sweetness, try the harrisa (€ 3.50), a concoction of corn meal, pistachio and rosewater. Arabesk offers several three-course meals (€ 24 to € 44 per person) consisting of a mixed appetizer plate, a main dish, dessert and, in some cases, a cocktail or other beverage. Come with an ample reserve of patience because, although the staff is friendly and accommodating, service can be slow and rather inattentive (even initial drink orders can take a while). But once the food arrives, any imperfections will seem trivial.
Food ** Service ** Atmosphere **

Haimhausnerstrasse 7
Tel. (089) 33 08 82 99
Reservations: (089) 33 08 82 97
Open daily from 6 pm
U3/6, Buses 33, 54, 154 Münchner

The restaurant’s slender business card, bearing the familiar image of a Lebanese cedar tree, boasts “1001 variations on Lebanese cuisine.” And while the menu at Ksara is, in reality, not quite so extensive, it includes a large repertoire of classic dishes from this Middle Eastern country. Begin by sampling from the nearly two dozen masa, or appetizers, such as succulent mtabbal (€ 5.50), grilled eggplant with tahini and lemon juice, zesty, rice-stuffed grape leaves (€ 5.50) or chicken wings seasoned with garlic, thyme, coriander and lemon. Mixed platters featuring five, nine or seventeen individual items (€ 14–€42) are worth considering, especially if you’re in a group or are vegetarian. Main dishes are invariably prepared on the grill and include lamb kebabs (€ 12), quail in Lebanese spices (€ 14.50), chicken marinated in lemon and garlic (€ 14) and perch prepared whole in a garlic and coriander sauce (€ 14). All are served with vegetables and rice. The good wine list includes some Lebanese wines as well as familiar European ones. For dessert, try the kaschta (€ 3), a lovely pudding made with orange-blossom water, pistachios and cream. The well prepared and presented dishes, along with the professional, attentive service, make dining at Ksara a pleasant experience. The restaurant offers limited outdoor seating when weather permits but the attractive interior, done in soft colors and accentuated by bright candle holders and subtle artwork, is comfortable enough to enjoy year round. As cooler fall weather begins to settle over Bavaria, the atmosphere and flavor of Ksara are pleasantly reminiscent of warm Mediterranean nights.
Food *** Service *** Atmosphere ***

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