Thursday, October 22, 2009

Table For One

I ended up staying home from work today. Although I didn't have a fever, my throat was scratchy and I had a headache all night that didn't respond to any of the over-the-counter medicines in the closet. However, it was a complete waste of a sick day. By noon I was feeling pretty good, and a mid-afternoon nap made things all better.

After staying in the house all day I was ready to get out for the evening. I called a couple of friends, but no one could meet me for a spur-of-the moment dinner. I decided I'd go by myself. I wanted a nice meal--something other than fast food or carry out, so I changed my clothes and went out to dinner alone.

I chose Saleem’s West, a Lebanese restaurant that's tucked in the back corner of a strip mall on Manchester Road just two miles from my house. Over the years, there have been a couple of different Italian places there, but it's been open in its current incarnation for about a year. I drive by it every day, but somehow it's never made it to the top of the list when we're looking for places to eat.

I was so eager to get out of the house that I arrived a bit early for dinner; there was no one else in the restaurant. I was given a table by a window close to the front of the room. The dining room walls were painted a dark red, and Middle Eastern-inspired artwork was hung throughout. Exotic music was playing through speakers in the ceiling. Both the host (who I found out was Salim Hanna, the owner) and my waiter (his son) were friendly and made me feel at home. After I placed my order, it didn't take long for the first of my food to arrive.

My Greek salad had wonderful dark green Romaine lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and Kalamata olives. The salad was topped with two large slices of feta cheese, which was much nicer than the tiny crumbles I've had on some Greek salads. It contrasted nicely with the tangy house dressing.

I chose my entree from the "Light Menu" (half-size portions) so I'd have room for dessert. My lamb kabob was heavy on the meat; the perfectly cooked chunks of lamb with slightly charred edges were accented by a few pieces of red pepper and onion. The meal came with rice and a small bowl of an incredible pomegranate-tomato dipping sauce that they make in-house.

I was planning on having a piece of baklava for dessert, but when the dessert menu touted all the other homemade sweets I changed my mind. I'm so glad I did! The Lebanese ice cream started with a pita. It was deep fried into a bowl shape and covered with sugar and cinnamon. In the middle of the bowl was a large scoop of vanilla ice cream with a clear syrup on top. It was very sweet, very rich, and very delicious.

This meal was definitely the highlight of my day. I don't think this will be the last time I act as my own dinner companion.


  1. I think it's fun to go out by yourself every once in awhile as a treat. Glad you had a good time. My stomach began growling just reading this!

  2. Having dinner in a real restaurant alone was one of the first things I thought of when I started my original blog. I did it...but I didn't like it @ all. I wish I could!

  3. I've never had Lebanese food; but there must be several here in Toronto. Your description has made me hungry!

  4. Loved your adventure to try new things...sounded yummy.

  5. We don't have many truly ethnic restaurants around here (just Mexican!) and I love Greek food. If there were a place here, I would definitely go Greek once a week!

  6. I heard on the radio a couple of months ago that the St. Louis metro area has one of the highest proportions of independent restaurants in the country! I suspect that you could find EVERY cuisine here if you took the time to search it out.

  7. Great job describing the food. Maybe you should be a food critic (or at least share your future restaurant experiences here)!