Me Jana

Restaurant Week for winter 2010 ended taking us up to Me Jana in Arlington, Virginia.  Me-Jana was seen as a fine Lebanese restaurant – a cuisine I was somewhat unfamiliar with beside Lebanese Taverna and the like.  I mean, we all know hummus, baba ghanoush etc, but how familar are we with that stuff done WELL?  So I sat down with great intrigue.  I arrived for my reservation a bit early then sat down at the bar from a drink waiting for the party – served by a legitimately pretty bartender (not that I was looking).  When the reservation time came, we sat down at a nice table with good decor with both chairs and a mini couch setup.

The Restaurant Week menu at Me-Jana was very limited, which worried me at first.  There were only two choices for appetizer, entree and dessert.  That said, the waiter we had was very assertive and told us “this is what you want”.  Upon the strong recommendation, I had the Appetizer Sampler, the Chilean Sea Bass and the dessert which I cannot remember the name of (milk pudding, phyllo dough, rosewater and fruit).  The sampler was tasty and generous (perhaps too much so).  Everything, the hummus, the baba ghanoush and the lamb fritter were delicious.  The fatoush (a salad) was a little less, but certainly not bad.  I have had comparable versions elsewhere for sure.

But really the star of the evening was the Chilean Sea Bass served in a tomato-mushroom gravy on manchiego polenta.  This ranks as one of the best dishes I have had in recent memory.  The polenta melted in my mouth, and the fish of course is a fattier fish (in other words, tastier), and fit with the sauce beautifully.  The combined perfect bite was remarkable.  The dessert was also good, fruity, good creamy-crunchy-rosewater texture.  It was tasty, a good way to end the meal – but the entree was the star and truly delicious.  The fish was so delicious that it warrants coming back to Me Jana to try the many small plates, which is a promising tapas experience.

Update: Well, January 2011, we DID make the follow up for small plates.  Alas, disappointment abounds.  While some dishes were not bad – other dishes were real problems.  When we ordered shrimp, it was overcooked despite a tasty sauce.  The baba ghanouj lacked the horsepower it did the first time.  Finally the dessert was a disaster – what should have been creamy sweet cheese in a fritter, turned out to be a mozzarella stick from hell.  I can’t believe this place turned into a thumbs down, but with the price point – I cannot justifiably recommend it with Chez Manelle down the street.

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