Mrs. HowChow and I have always loved Lebanese Taverna -- from the upscale ones like Harbor East to the cafes in Rockville and Silver Spring. But DonkeyKong went to Dearborn, Michigan on business a came back with desserts that I had never seen before -- fried honey dumplings call awame. And he came back with a dream:
A couple of weeks ago I found myself in Dearborn, thinking about what is missing in Howard County. Anytime you're feeling envious of Dearborn, it means one of two things 1) you love the good music coming in from the Canadian radio stations that are yet to be taken over by Clear Channel playlists; or 2) you're eating phenomenal Lebanese food.
Of all the world's cuisine, Lebanese is among the most comprehensive (everything from breakfast to dessert to unique wine styles) and the most tasty, but unfortunately among the rarest in Howard County.
It occurred to me how deprived we in Howard County are as I was popping my fifth awame in my mouth after a big meal of lebneh, kafta, and schwarma. Sure, there's Lebanese Taverna in Harbor East, or Bethesda Row, or Pentagon Row, or Cleveland Park, or Tyson's Corner (walkable, revitalized, and with a Whole Foods) but I want one to call my own...and honestly, once you've had Lebanese food from the Arab neighborhoods of Dearborn, Lebanese Taverna becomes the Olive Garden of the cuisine pretty quickly.
Yet to look at Howard County's demographics is to realize just how strange it is that a restauranteur has not decided to bring this cuisine to Howard County. We're upwardly mobile, reward good restaurants with packed houses and long waits, have a large population of people who keep kosher or eat halal, and already have a plethora of successful ethnic restaurants.
I came back from Dearborn and told HowChow that I'm prepared to take an ad out in the Detroit Free Press offering Howard County to a Lebanese chef the same way Maryland takes ads out in Variety to offer Baltimore as a stand-in for DC or New York.
Barring that, we need a concerted HowChow reader-bomb of Lebanese Taverna to get them to come to the new downtown or the vacant ground floor retail space of Maple Lawn,or the soon-to-be-ground-broken Turf Valley. Our lack of any Lebanese food ranks with bad commutes and unfair FHA-conforming loan limits as my top complaints in the Switzerland of Maryland. But it is a problem I think is within our power to solve. Someday soon I'd like to buy my awame and shwarma local.What is the best Middle Eastern food around? I'm surprised like DonkeyKong that there isn't more. We went with a large group to the Harbor East Lebanese Taverna a few weeks ago, and the food in delicious. The bread alone is worth a visit. We topped it off with kabobs, falafel, hummus, salads, and a delicious lemonade. I'd love a local spot -- classy or casual.