Ollie’s Lebanese Cuisine gives a taste of the ‘Paris of the Middle East’ (Review by Metro Times)
By Michael Jackman
Few cuisines are as misunderstood in metro Detroit as Middle Eastern. The average non-Arab diner might imagine it as a monolithic cuisine, with people wolfing down fattoush salads and gnawing on falafel sandwiches from Tunisia to Turkey to Turkmenistan. It’s more accurate to say “Arabic food” is actually a family of many different cuisines, from the Berber dishes of Northwest Africa to the stews and grilled meats of the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. Among the many nations packed in and around the Fertile Crescent, there are foods as varied as those of Europe, though the limited menus in many of our local eateries don’t offer much in the way of proof.
Among these many national cuisines, Lebanese fare is special. It’s Middle Eastern food, yes, but also Mediterranean, sharing much with the culinary traditions that line the northern coast of the sea from the Iberian Peninsula to the Levant. Those familiar with the “Paris of the Middle East” might even say that the cosmopolitan Beirutis can be a little snooty about their food, shying away from anything spicier than cinnamon. Put in less charged terms, Lebanese fare has an emphasis on deft preparation, fresh ingredients, and, yes, a reluctance to overspice things.
Those looking to try out a Lebanese fine-dining experience might consider a meal at Ollie’s Lebanese Cuisine, which we chose for its high ratings and faithful-sounding menu. We’re happy to say our dining experience was excellent.
We went to the mini-chain’s Dearborn location, naturally, nestled in a little “power center” off Ford and Mercury roads. It’s a large white box decorated with a bit of Middle Eastern flair, accented with red draperies and a rustic-looking balcony disguising the restrooms. It’s rather stylish, at least if you don’t look up at the steel and ductwork so commonly left naked in modern spaces these days. But you came for the food, not to stare at the ceiling, right?