Aladdin's rolls out the magic carpet of food
There are few places that can satisfy the vegetarian as well as meat-lover tastes than Aladdin’s Eatery. Fady and Sally Chamoun’s first Lebanese-American restaurant opened in Lakewood in 1994 has blossomed into more than two dozen locations in five states and, fortunately for us on the west shore, there’s one right at Crocker Park.
The lightly stained wood tables and chairs gives an inviting feeling along with ceiling-hung oval light sheers that nicely mute the track lighting. The mirrored wall above the cushioned bench seating gives a larger feel to this quaint establishment.
Now let’s roll into the menu.
The V-Nine Soup ($3.45) is something not to miss. This delicious tomato and veggie-based soup has vegetables so huge, they give a new name to CHUNKY.
There’s nothing like a little Hummos ($5.95) to get a meal started. A pureed blend of chickpeas, tahini and lemon and garnished with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, parsley and served with pita.
Loving a good salad I had to try the Lamb Salad ($11.95). It’s a crispy bed of mixed greens with tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, scallions, and then topped with cubes of marinated grilled lamb and served with your choice of dressing. It’s a really superb meal.
Speaking of dressing, Aladdin’s dedicates a whole page of their menu just to describe their homemade dressings in detail, a nice touch for the curious diner.
The Chicken Dijon Rolled Pita ($5.75) is a favorite of my wife. Tender marinated char-grilled chicken with tomatoes, onions and honey Dijon dressing all rolled up in a lightly toasted pita. The thought of it makes me want to run out and get one.
We always order the Mujadara Plate ($9.75), a bed of steamed lentils and brown rice topped with Lebanese Salata and finished with thinly sliced fried onions. It’s a wonderful blend of flavors. We usually order it so everyone can have a share. Aladdin's Lebanese Salata (salad) is a delicious blend of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, scallions, onions and parsley mixed with olive oil, lemon and herbs. You’ll find it on many dishes.
Shish Kabob Plate ($12.95) is char-grilled lean beef tenderloin served with seasoned white rice and vermicelli and topped with pine nuts, almonds and just a hint of cinnamon. Served with either garlic sauce or tahini yogurt.
I just hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the extensive menu. Pita Pitza, Salad Pockets and many other items leave you wondering what to order.
Fresh Fruit Smoothies, Fresh Squeezed Juices and Fresh Brewed Teas will make your drink choice a little bit difficult. Oh, and did I mention that they're fresh?
I don’t think anything can tempt you more than Aladdin’s desserts. From gourmet cakes, cheesecakes, baklava, cookies and dessert bars there is something for every sweet tooth. The worst thing is that you have to pass by the dessert case as you walk in to be seated, not fair!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the menu, the service staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, but most items are very well defined.
In closing, it’s wonderful to see the success of a local family-owned business grow throughout the state of Ohio and into neighboring states.
Rating: four stars out of four.
Aladdin’s Eatery; 151 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake; 440-617-9005; aladdinseatery.com
Steve Novak is a Westlake resident and 30-year veteran in the restaurant industry, working at all levels from dishwasher to manager to chef/owner. The Observer makes two anonymous visits per restaurant and does not accept complimentary meals.