Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday,May 29, 2003
Hedary’s Lebanese Restaurant
Tabbuli $4.75
Fatush $6.00
Kibbi $12.00
Frarej $13.25
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Thuper Duper

Getting tangled up in some of the dish names at Hedary’s is half the fun.

By BRIAN ABRAMS

Hedary’s Lebanese Restaurant

6323 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW. 817-731-6961. Sun 11am-10pm, buffet 1pm-3pm. Mon closed, Tues-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. All major credit cards accepted. No personal checks.

he only place in town where I thought I could buy a hookah (for “tobacco”-smoking purposes, of course) was Fantasy Imports. But Hedary’s sells a modest selection of smoking paraphernalia. And, as any Middle-Easterner will tell you, a meal just isn’t a meal without a hookah hit afterward. And you can bet that the staff at Hedary’s won’t be mad at you for firing up after you polish off one of their flavorful dishes.

When ordering, you may want to turn away from the table — not because cotton-mouth will be distorting your speech, but because the names of some of Hedary’s dishes will be twisting your tongue. (If you’re not vigilant, you may end up ordering thea thells by the thea thore.) The menu for this Mediterranean-by-the-Middle-East bistro is covered in wild mad libs, like “Shish Tawuk” or (try to order this one and still look cool in front of your date) “Kibbi Nyyyi Mahmhamsa.” But the shalla-khalla-khalla names are more endearing than frustrating. I mean, really, how many meals off The Bricks can you eat whose names don’t involve some variation of “-melt” or “-combo”? So, now, even before any food has been served, the mood at Hedary’s is already a little light. Perfect.

The restaurant is unfortunately buried within a pasty shopping center infested with old ladies’ shoe stores and yenta nail salons. Owner/chef Liliane Hedary contemplated moving to a downtown location but decided against abandoning her suburban following. And making the trip here is a small price for foodies to pay for the serene ambiance and cordial service that comes with a business that’s been family operated since the bicentennial (especially in contrast to their sister store, Byblos, where the décor is less Like Water for Chocolate, more Midnight Express).

My guest and I started with the tabbuli. Who would have thought that parsley could taste so cool and delicious? In a mixture of crushed wheat, onions, tomatoes, and olive oil, the pile of mushy green worked well as a pungent topping on the homemade baked pita bread. (May I add that every order of pita bread — and there were many — was warm, soft, and never doughy, and the waiters replaced our baskets with no hesitation.) Prom night may not be the best time to go for this appetizer, for fear of getting clumps of green shit stuck in your braces, but, after graduation and beyond, the tabbuli at Hedary’s should make for a refreshing summertime treat.

The Fatush, Ms. Hedary’s version of a giant would-be Lebanese salad romaine, requires the same ingredients most country kitchen diners’ salads do (e.g., flaky pieces of lettuce, thick slices of cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions) — but do not confuse this salad with some green heap of leaves from Chili’s. In place of the typical greasy spoon’s syrupy ranch dressing and tooth-chipping croutons, Lebanese toast crumbs are used, and the dish is topped with sumac, garlic, and olive oil dressing. The toast crumbs were crisp, the seasonings bittersweet, and the veggies garden-fresh. And after eating what I thought was a bunch, I was dismayed to see that half a bowl of roughage remained.

In other words, the Fatush is a meal in itself, and it’s definitely the essential entrée for vegans, considering that most of the offerings at Hedary’s contain the remains of some kind of barnyard animal.

And talk about moving mouths, some of the menu’s descriptions must have been created by one of Skinamax’s after-dark staff writers. Like the Sujuk, “hot beef sausage bathed in lemon juice,” or my entrée, the Frarej, “baked together so that the juices and flavors from the chicken and vegetables permeate each other.” The pornographic descriptions, nevertheless, sold me, and apparently I’m not the only one: For years, owner Hedary says, Frarej has been the most popular item on the menu. And rightfully so — soaked in a sweet herbal demi-glaze, the chicken was just as luscious and savory as any one of Shannon Tweed’s late-night cameos.

The Kibbi (ground lamb with cracked wheat stuffed with onion and spices) was our final dish. Served on a bed of white rice with a side of grilled veggies, the plate was a dud. Between the mound of starch and the three lumps of dry meat, I couldn’t tell what was edible and what was Silly Putty. I was going to take the remains home and use them to patch up some cracks in the walls, but an accompaniment of Labni (cucumber-flavored dipping yogurt) salvaged whatever little dignity the Kibbi still had.

The crowd — from a Pakistani family of nine to a pair of yuppies seated at the window — seemed to enjoy the setting. The entire wait staff kept in perpetual motion, giving suitable attention to every diner. Aside from what the Hedary family succeeds in doing within their own four walls, Camp Bowie’s cheeseburger shack overkill can only add to the fondness for such a unique (and tongue-tying) menu.


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