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El Basha serves fine Lebanese cuisine in an intimate setting.
We picked at a basket of Syrian bread as we looked over the menu. The appetizer was an easy choice – we went with El Basha’s Half and Half ($5), a dish of hummus and baba ghanouj drizzled with olive oil. Although baba is my favorite for the bite of its smoky eggplant flavor, it melded with the more subtle hummus as we dipped into the two with triangles of fresh bread.
From the restaurant’s ample wine selection, I chose a glass of La Garza Pinot Gris ($6). It had a fresh crisp flavor, just a bit floral; it was ideal with our appetizer. From the other end of the flavor spectrum, my guest’s glass of Messapicus Copertino Riserva ($6) was a heady blend of Italian grapes; the silky red fruit blossomed into layers of flavor on the tongue.
The pace of our meal was ideal, never rushed. Soon our entrees were served. My Lamb Port Saiid ($16) was a large portion of bite-sized lamb, sautéed in a mild garlic sauce with mushrooms and served over a bed of rice pilaf. Fine cuisine has a way of blending spices and flavors into unity – El Basha’s Port Saiid is a prime example of this artistry, even the garlic had been tamed.
Ever the kibbi fan, it was no surprise when my guest ordered the Combination Platter ($12). El Basha’s combo consists of a portion of baked kibbi, rice pilaf, and six grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb and rice. Kibbi is a layered mixture of cracked wheat, ground meat (usually lamb), pine nuts and minced onion, baked until it gets a crunchy crust. El Basha serves their kibbi with fresh yogurt, a traditional touch. Not even attempting to finish my meal, I asked our waiter to pack it to go, allowing me to sample one of El Basha’s homemade desserts. Tonight, my guest and I chose the Rice Pudding. Flavored with rose water and cinnamon, the dome-shaped mold was served with plenty of whipped cream and was a refreshingly cool ending to our meal.
The El Morocco was my introduction to Lebanese cuisine. When that landmark ceased operation, a void was left in Worcester’s dining scene – one that El Basha has proven most capable of filling.
The dining room atmosphere is a cross between roadhouse and function room, with the crowded bar area reminiscent of a sports pub. The themed restaurant has traffic signs (N’awlins – 1,023 miles) and scenes of Louisianan streets and riverboats hanging over the comfortable, oversized booths.
El Basha West
256 Park Avenue