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Restaurant Week Lessons Learned at Me Jana

Me Jana Outdoor Patio

Me Jana Outdoor Patio

I have officially confirmed my own advice about not going to restaurants that offer small plates, tapas or mezze, for Restaurant Week. I learned my lesson first hand. On Monday afternoon, I had lunch at Me Jana, a fine Lebanese restaurant in the Courthouse area of Arlington. The restaurant is named after an old folk ballad that is traditionally sung to “welcome” friends and family and reminisce about the “good ol’ days.”

We arrived on time for our 12:30 p.m. reservation received a pleasant greeting by the manager at the front desk. He asked if we would like to be seated inside the dining room or outside on the patio. It was such a lovely sunny day; I opted for the patio seating. Despite the loud busy view of the street, the patio is almost serene and relaxing. Me Jana has put a lot of effort into making the patio green and plush with large decorative flower boxes with shrubbery (see photo above).

Me Jana Sampler platter

Me Jana Sampler platter

On the Restaurant Week menu, offerings for lunch, a choice for first course includes a sampler platter comprised of fattouch, baba gannouj, hommus, and a cheese roll. The fattouch is a deliciously fresh salad of tomato, cucumber, onion, radish, green pepper, parsley, in a mint and lemon vinaigrette (see photo on left). The tomatoes were a little soft and mushy, especially since summer restaurant week falls in the middle of  tomato season, the tomatos out of all the ingredients, should have been the most flavorful. Nothing is better than a delicious, fresh, homegrown tomato with a viniagrette. The small crisps in the salad provided excellent texture and the bright red sumac added a lemony flavor to the salad. Since I just dined at Zaytinya, all of these Mediterranean inspired traditional dishes are becoming more familiar. The Hommus at Me Jana is very flavorful even though it is a traditional receipe with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. It is served alongside of a basket of fresh homemade pita bread. The Baba Gannouj is very similiar in texture, ingredients, and presentation than the Hommus but it is made with smoked eggplant. I particularly care for it. I’m not surprised, I have never liked eggplant. The cheese roll besides the fattouch was my favorite of the sampler platter. It is served warm, filled with manchego and feta cheeses and wrapped in phylo and fried until it is golden and crispy. It wasn’t served with a dipping sauce, but I can imagine that it would have been delicious with an apricot chutney or perhaps a sweet yogurt sauce. The combination of all of these small plates into the one sampler was an excellent way to try several trafitional favorites at a good value. On the regular menu, if diners ordered each mezze separately, the portions would be larger, of course, but the cost would be nearly $38.

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