The Place: When I walked in at 11:30 a.m., Les Grillades, the warm-hearted family-run Lebanese restaurant on Holland Avenue, was empty. But by noon it was packed. It may feel like a secret hideaway, perched high above the street next to Allium, but clearly the secret is out. Ask anyone who works at Tunney’s Pasture and I imagine this is the first place they’d mention if you ask for the fastest, friendliest, and freshest place for lunch in the area.
The Deal: Until this visit, I’d only ever been to Les Grillades for dinner. My dedication to the charcoal-grilled de-boned whole chickens was already firmly established. I discovered many of the lunchtime regulars skip menus and table service and instead line up at the counter to order pita-wrapped sandwiches and either take it to go or seat themselves at a table, cafeteria-style: a surefire way to shave a few minutes off the dining experience. I took the option to sit at a table and order off the complete menu. No matter what you order, prepare for a feast with all sorts of extra goodies included.
The Dish: The lentil soup is irresistible, though totally unnecessary given how much food comes with the main dishes. Squeeze the fresh lemon and drop a few crispy pita chips over the top of the cumin-kissed purée and tell me if there is a more satisfying, soothing soup around. Next, the condiments arrive: a dish of excellent humus with plenty of fresh quartered pita, hot pink pickled radishes, and some potent eyebrow-raising garlic sauce. The lamb kafta consists of two large kebabs packed with fresh parsley and garlic, grilled to perfection. Golden-hued rice, zesty-dressed salad, and a grilled wedge of tomato complete a dish that could easily serve two hungry people.
Hours: Open for Lunch Tuesday – Friday from 11 a.m.
Les Grillades, 85 Holland Avenue, 613-792-3224.