Unpronouncable – Mamnoon

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Mamnoon has been on all of the restaurant critic’s best restaurant lists, inluding Seattle Magazine and Metropolitan Magazine, so Salumi suggested that we give it a try for our next dinner.  Mamnoon is Syrian and Lebenese food, which seems similar to middle eastern food in general.  Lots of yogart, hummus, and flatbread type breads on the menu.

There’s a walk-up window for kulage sandwiches and mana’eesh (similar to pita/flatbread) and the restaurant itself is large with a very modern design.  We were lucky enough to be seated in a small corner in the back of the restaurant, but it was still very loud.  After some research on what other people said were must try items on the menu, we ordered:

mamnoon - fattah hummus

fatteh hummus – fresh chickpeas with tahini and fried pita; while we were expecting green hummus, this was definitely different as I have never had fresh chickpeas. They are in my mind, like spring, what the chickpeas should taste like before they get turned into the tan garbanzo beans at the salad bar; a nice mix of textures, this is difficult to get eat with the bread as everything tends to want to escape.

mamnoon - bateresh

bateresh – charred eggplant and minced lamb; i tasted charred eggplant and we spent a good deal of time puzzling over the red stuff (minced lamb) which didn’t exactly taste like lamb. Great with the bread

mamnoon - yellowtail

yellowtail – glazed and looking like a grilled pineapple paired with fresh tomatoes and pickled radishes; it had the same profile of a miso cod with a sweet glaze and was steaky (that’s what happens when you don’t sear tuna I guess)

mamnoon - shish barak

shish barak – lamb dumplings with tahini over rice; more like lamb meatballs stuffed into ravioli over an extremely buttery and creamy risotto if I had to compare; lot of yogart again and I think their rice was some of the best “risotto” I’ve had

mamnoon - Mouhallabia

Mouhallabia – milk pudding with orange gelee, pistachio, and toffee; reminiscent of a slightly firmer and less creamy panna cotta, less firm than chinese almond pudding; a nice subdued pallette of flavors with a variety of textures from crunchy, squishy, and silky.

Overall, I was hoping to be blown away by flavors that I had never experienced and combinations that would electrify the pallette, but Mamnoon fell short of the hype. I like that it’s a trendy middle eastern restaurant, but I felt that all the dishes we had all had similar flavor profiles (except the yellowtail) even though we ordered from all parts of the menu with a variety of items.  This is a great place if you want to show out of town guests something out of the ordinary in an upscale restaurant, but I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that it’s the best restaurant in Seattle.  Maybe I need to try the lamb kefta next time…

Overall: bittersweet ending
Highlights: the variety of fresh made flatbreads and bread for dipping in the olive oil
Footnotes: it is very loud in here with lots of groups gathering for dinner; no one ever explains what you’re about it eat – when ordering dishes that we can’t pronouce or really know what to expect, this can be a little confusing; it is pricey for the ingrediants – plus one glass of wine for Salumi was $116 for what we ordered

Mamnoon on Urbanspoon

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