236 5th Avenue (27th St.)
New York, NY 10001
Phone Number 212-683-2929
Web site www.ililinyc.com
Cuisine Contemporary Lebanese
The Best of Old Lebanon and Modern Mediterranean
Come to Life in New York City with the Opening of ilili
Award-winning website, Punchin-dot-com, features the Walman Report and reviews of restaurants, travel, wine and theater. Old Lebanon and new Mediterranean meet on 5th Avenue with the opening of ilili, a stunning contemporary Lebanese restaurant offering inspired modern cuisine. Not even in Beirut can you get food this inventive. New York’s most exciting new restaurants offer Global, upmarket less familiar (to Americans) ethnic cuisines, packaged for a hip and knowledgeable clientel.
Served within a glamorous ocher dining room, Owner / Executive Chef Philippe Massoud’s menu offers appetizers like a mélange of Eggplant, Garlic, Tahini, Olive Oil and Pomegranate and the famed Manti dumplings, filled with Spiced Lamb, Tomatoes, Mint and Yogurt Foam. Progressive dishes include Mussels with licorice-liqueur, Garlic and Peppers and Kashkawan Cheese, baked with Duck Egg and Desert Truffle, served in a black skillet.
Not to be missed masterpieces include Brussels sprouts, fried w/grapes, fig puree, walnuts & mint (the best version of this mistreated vegetable ever encountered); Amber Jack Raw thin sliced tuna w/wasabi-spiced baba ghannouj;Parchment Filets of Rouget
w/ pita chips, Tahini, and lemon kibbeh Naya and buger-of-burgers: Spiced Beef Kafta, stuffed with flecks of buttery Foie Gras.
There is wonderful seafood as well as kebabs made with tender Kobe beef. For a no-brainer, go for the Lebanese Tasting menu. Complementing the international cuisine, there’s an impressive wine list featuring favorites from Lebanon and the Mediterranean, with a terrific selection by the glass and an interesting Cava Rose, as well as superb cocktails, whether they be a classic martini or the house margarita (an intoxicating mélange of Patron Silver, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Fresh Pomegranate, Lime and Sumac). Phoenician Lemonade is the runner up. For dessert, stick with the classic Essmalieh. a Napoleon of shredded philo and Achta (like clotted cream) and you’ll swoon. Service is wonderful.
Our first restaurant to review in the new year, ilili, 236 5th Avenue, is uniquely upscale, offbeat, and is not to be missed. That rates “A Major” on the Walman Report.