Friday, December 24, 2010

ilili

Some friends were visiting from Philadelphia. So we did what we knew best...we took them out to eat! We all wanted something different from the usual steakhouse. So after some consideration, we booked a reservation to ilili. I recommended it due to the awesome brunch I had there once. I wanted to see if they could impress me with their dinner fare as well.
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And impress they did! Look at the spread that we had! Their menu is designed for groups to share. So we ordered a bunch of appetizers (hot and cold) and just a couple of entrees to share. Dish after dish came. We ate up each and every delicious morsel.

Before the meal started, we ordered some of their signature cocktails. I don't remember which ones but they were delicious. Refreshing and perfect with the upcoming meal. They also gave us some bread, crackers, cheese/yogurt, and olives to snack on.
And now onto the meal. These are lamb meatballs ($12) braised in tomato sauce, onions, and pine nuts. Tender ground meat in sweet and tangy tomato sauce. They were really delicious. One of the favorites of the night.
And some hummus ($7.5) was ordered because it's good to choose a staple to compare to other places. It was thick, creamy, nutty, smooth, and rich. You can taste both the chickpeas and the tahini sauce. This was only elevated by the drizzle of olive oil on top. I can easily sit happily and eat only this with their fresh pita.
And this is their freshly made pita bread. Puffy from the hot air inside. Take care to tear these soft breads apart and dip into that delicious hummus.
This is roasted bone marrow ($15) with sour cherry tabouleh, and mini pitas. This was so good. The rich flavor of the marrow was ridiculous. Spread it on some pita with some tabouleh and it was wondrous in my mouth. The depth of meat flavor cut by the tartness of the salad. And at $15, this was a steal. This was one of my favorites of the night.
We also ordered a knafe ($18) which is on the dessert menu. However, I thought it would be a nice sweet addition to our mostly savory meal. I was right. This cheese tart was huge! Only sweetened by orange blossom syrup, it worked well to contrast the rest of the meal. The cheese was gooey and delicious. The pistachios on top were crunchy. The crust remained crunchy even with the syrup on top. I would definitely order this again. It easily fed 4 adults. Those sesame pita pillows were nice too.
Here's some lamb sausage ($12) which was piping hot and super flavorful. I really enjoyed the spices in the sausage.
We ordered some shrimp ($15) that was slightly spicy from the jalapenos but the garlic and cilantro added nice flavor. The shrimp were really large.
We also ordered the staple beef shawarma ($15). This unfortunately wasn't very good. The beef was completely dry and made it difficult to bite through the wrap. Luckily, we had a bunch of other delicious food to eat.
This was beef kebab ($24) which was an entree. The beef was tender but the dish was mostly salad and not beef. Considering the size and quality of the appetizers, this wasn't a good deal. The meat tasted good but wasn't worth the price.
This may look like a bowl of yogurt. However, hidden inside were delicious beef dumplings ($12). This would easily be a very comforting dish for those looking for something rich, creamy, and soul satisfying. Yum!
And last but not least, roaste brussel sprouts. These were charred nicely and gave a good caramelized flavor. It was lightly sweetened by some fig puree but contrasted with some fresh grapes. I really enjoyed this. I would eat this all by myself, if I could. But I had to share.
ilili was amazing again. I really enjoyed the meal from start to finish. There was a couple of hiccups for a couple of dishes. However, the majority of the meal was so good that we easily overlooked that. The service was also really friendly and helpful with any question that we had. I would come back here in a heartbeat.

ilili
236 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10001
(212) 683-2929
ililinyc.com

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