New Mezze Lounge at Almayass New York | As The Falling Leaf Flows
mezze: an appetizer in the Mediterranean
Almayass, the first Lebanese-Armenian restaurant in Manhattan, was founded in Beirut, Lebanon in 1996. It all began when the owners, who are members of the Alexandrian family, introduced their Lebanese-Armenian home recipes and specialties to people in Beirut, Lebanon. Almayass has gone on and expanded the restaurant with locations in Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Riyadh, Doha, and New York City.
The New York City location is in the Flatiron district. They proudly serve a menu of amazing dishes and plates to introduce a different culinary experience composed of the combination of authentic Lebanese cuisine and the exotic flavors of traditional Armenian dishes. Therefore, the focus of its infusion goes and expands beyond the Middle Eastern Mediterranean cuisine of Lebanon and merges with qualities of the Armenian cuisine, where nuts, fruits and fresh herbs play heavily in the food here. Their new mezze lounge has opened recently and is dedicated solely to mezze tasting menus.
The Almayass restaurant in the Manhattan location is vibrant and lively, yet elegant and filled with large group tables, in hopes to inspire conversations and life and spark close relationships amongst people at the table. Their décor and interior design is exquisite and definitely catches attention with the use of its colors. Adding on to the vibrancy, there are brightly and attractively colored paintings and artwork on the walls that add on to the whole family and group dining experience.
In the new mezze lounge at Almayass, there are smaller tables to accommodate for groups of a lesser size in an area near the bar with exposed brick walls and framed mirrors hanging on them. It makes the space bigger but still stays cozy and intimate. It works the same effect as the existing restaurant in liveliness. Everything just flows and happens once you’re seated at the table…
…when the hanging leaves dance to the rhythm of delicate breeze…
Just like a falling leaf, dancing in unexpected movements to the flow of a subtle breeze, you become the leaf at Almayass as their menu lifts and moves you through an interesting culinary experience. Right as you reach for a mezze in the sea of mezzes spread out across the table, with all the different yet exciting colors of each, flooding every corner of the table. The good part about the new mezze lounge is that all mezzes are a smaller version of the beloved dishes that made them famous in Beirut. They have an extensive menu of authentic dishes from Lebanon and Armenia, and plenty of cold and hot appetizers to start with.
The two waves of small plates, starting off with the cold appetizers and ending with the hot ones, consist of Tabbouleh, Armenian Salad, Hummus, Moutabbal, Mouhammara, Tzatziki Yogurt, Sarma, Kebbe Naye, Lentil Kefte, Fried Cauliflower, Spicy Potatoes, Basterma Almayass, Falafel, Mini Cheese Bereg, Kebbe Kras, Mantee, and Baklava.
Every mezze has its own distinct and unique flavors and taste and will definitely keep you jumping around from one to another. The Armenian Salad and Tzatziki Yogurt (yogurt, Persian cucumber and mint) are very refreshing and great to have in between bites of other mezzes. Kebbe Naye, translating into ‘raw Kebbe’, features tartar meat that has been mixed with burghul, onion, parsley and traditional spices, to give it a mild spiciness. The slight stickiness of the texture helps pair perfectly with pita bread.
The Basterma Almayass is an Armenian pastrami canapé topped with fried quail eggs. The eggs are cooked well, the pastrami is simply salted and the simple combination makes it an amazing appetizer. Another hot appetizer that stands out is the traditional Mantee, which is an oven-baked boat shape ravioli filled with seasoned fresh ground beef and served with a fresh garlic yogurt sauce topped with sumac. Adding the yogurt gives each bite an extra layer of flavor and helps to relieve your taste buds of the strong and rich meaty taste of this dish.
To finish, Baklava as the dessert is the perfect ending touch. It is a rich, sweet dessert pastry made from filo and filled with chopped nuts and syrup. Because of the layering of filo, it gives this dessert a flaky exterior. From every bite and with every succeeding sigh you let out as to why the dinner is coming to an end, crumbs fall and dance freely.