Sunday, July 14, 2019

Kareem’s Lebanese Kitchen –Inspired Mediterranean Cuisine

 Kareem is the Arabic word for “generous”, and Chef Rachid Eido’s servings are generous in size and delicious flavor. Formally trained at the Culinary School of Beirut, this third generation chef combined that experience with generations of family recipes, and then moved to the Baltimore Four Seasons Hotel, and other experiences in the U.S.A. . He moved recently to Naples to soft open Kareem’s on February 12, 2018, next to popular 21 Spices by Chef Asif. Since then, by word of mouth, diners drive from Fort Myers south to experience his Lebanese cuisine.  Kareem’s  features light white wood walls and white chairs accented by darker cedar wood tables (as in Cedars of Lebanon) , burnished copper panels, and exposed ceiling pipes and vents. The kitchen is open, with vertical rotisseries featuring roasting shawarma meats. It’s a nicely designed, light open setting that seats 85 people.
Freshly baked pita- like little hot air balloons!

Mezza are the small servings- sized like Spanish tapas- however using completely different seasonings, with nearly all spices and chickpeas imported from Lebanon.  Try chicken sambousak, baba ghanoush (pureed eggplant with tahini garlic, lemon and extra virgin olive oil),  Kibbeh-stuffed beef meat balls with a crisp bulgur wheat crust;  shwarma roll with rotisserie sliced beef and spices, or grape leaves stuffed with rice, chickpeas, onion and mint. Pita bread is made to order. There’s a good assortment of beer and wine, with some from Lebanon.
Chef Rachid's Platter
If you’re not sure what to order, make it easy with a starter of Chef Rachid’s Platter ($17) of hummus, baba ghanoush,  tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves,  moussaka, kibbe with bulgur crust and labneh aioli, moussaka, Chef Rachid eggplant salad, fatayer spinach pastries, and falafel. Two can share this appetizer. Highly Recommended.
Hummus Sampler
Chicken Farrouj
The hummus Sampler- ($13) has a trio of traditional, garlic, and mildly spicy hummus.  It’ll serve four people. You may be asking for extra bread of sliced carrots.
Chicken Farrouj
Chicken Farrouj  ($23)  means “male chicken” in Arabic, is a roasted, deboned organic half chicken, richly seasoned with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and sumac. It’s crisp and tender, served on a  yogurt-topped flat bread, with baked zaatar potato slices, zucchini, garlic, onions and tomatoes. Two can share this-I'd suggest a beer rather than wine to complement this flavoring. Highly recommended.
Lamb Mouzat
Lamb Mouzat ($35) special slow braised seasoned quite large lamb shank-the Lebanese version of Italy's veal osso buco, with cherry tomatoes, potatoes and a rich broth. Highly recommended.
Beiruti Kanafeh 
Beiruti Kanafeh ($7) is a brined chevre cheese pastry dessert with thin crepe-like semolina crust  topped with saffron-honey syrup  drizzle and pistachio dust. Recommended.

Next time, I’ll  get one of the flat breads, either the zaatar, or the three cheese mix ($8). For dessert try the baklava $7; awamat- Lebanese donuts balls with yogurt custard, or the oum ali -raspberry cake bread pudding with raisins and coconut.

Competition?  Nah, let's rather talk of similarities. Moura Bistro on Pine Ridge has Lebanese that's almost as good as Kareem’s, with a more limited menu, and it is open for lunch and dinner.  Bha Bha Persian Bistro on Fifth Ave. South has the  different Persian cuisine that’s well worth sampling.
 At times Chef Rachid pairs with Chef Asif Syed of 21 Spices (next door) to offer Indo-Lebanese Vegan Fest buffets.

Kareem’s Lebanese Kitchen, 4270 Tamiami Trail East, open 4:30-10 p.m., daily for dinner Reservations are recommended.  239-315-4167.
Happy Campers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! Your review is very tasty and my spouse and I will certainly go to this wonderful place to celebrate our 30 anniversary!