Craving the cold that kept many Washingtonians inside last weekend, a friend and I ventured to Bethesda to sample the cuisine of the restaurant Bacchus of Lebanon. While getting to the restaurant involves a long trek from Georgetown, including a 10 minute walk from the Bethesda metro station, Bacchus of Lebanon’s food is worth it.
The restaurant is easy to pick out. Located in a neighborhood of otherwise quite nondescript storefronts, its building is designed in a traditionally Mediterranean style and includes a patio that would be ideal for outdoor dining in the warmer months. You enter the restaurant through a room decorated with various Lebanese trinkets and artifacts. The dining room includes a beautiful fountain and other Middle Eastern decor.
When the menu came, we were initially startled after reading through the list of main courses, which generally included quite large portions of meat or fish. At prices ranging from $16 to $29, these courses won’t break the bank, but may fall outside of some thrifty college students’ budgets if you also take advantage of the restaurant’s extensive menu of appetizers, drinks and desserts.
Indeed, we opted to each order a salad and another appetizer, following the Mediterranean custom of eating several smaller dishes rather than one large dish, and take advantage of the extensive choice in side dishes and appetizers offered by this restaurant.
Before our orders came out, we were brought a plate of warm, fresh-baked pita bread and a dipping sauce to accompany it. In and of itself, this made for a pleasing start to the meal.
Dinner was excellent. I ordered the “Salatet al Rai,” which included feta cheese, tomatoes, mint, tarragon, caraway seeds and olive oil, and a dish of “Kibbe bel Laban.” The salad, though relatively simple, was delicious on account of the fresh feta cheese. The Kibbe, a dish containing beef mixed with cracked wheat and served with a yogurt sauce, was similarly delicious and nicely balanced out the otherwise predominantly vegetarian appetizer menu.
Additionally, the two appetizer portions were more than enough to satisfy our appetites. Opting for that order over a larger course was definitely the right decision, as we got the same quantity of food while also were able to sample two different dishes.
While the food at Bacchus of Lebanon more than merits the trip to Bethesda, the service, while generally not inattentive, was at times a bit lacking. If you go, be prepared to have to flag down a server to place your order or get your check at the end of the night; the staff did not pay very close attention to us throughout the night. Nevertheless, when we did ask them for assistance, the staff showed nothing but the utmost courtesy and completed our requests efficiently. Our food was delivered promptly. All in all, sampling the Bacchus of Lebanon dining experience is highly recommended.