The Layalina Restaurant offers Lebanese and Syrian cuisine at 5216 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22205. The restaurant is open from 11am to 10:30pm.
I visited the Layalina restaurant for lunch on a Saturday enticed by a Groupon discount. I always get a bad feeling when a restaurant is empty at lunch time. It means that the food is bad, the prices are high or the service is terrible. In the case of Layalina, the prices are high. Two appetizers and lunch for four people cost $99 dollars without tip. The Layalina Lebanese/Syrian food was good, but not enough to justify the price, considering that other middle-eastern restaurants charge less for similar fare.
Some tables are set up outdoors in front of the restaurant. The tables occupy what would be parking spaces and only two parking spots are available at the storefront. The interior of the restaurant is decorated with tapestries and paintings with traditional Moorish designs. The aqua blue color of the chairs contrasts with the maroon color of the napkins.
Our appetizers consisted of Hommos, which is a chickpea puree with tahini sauce, garlic, and lemon juice, sprinkled with olive oil, and Baba Ghannoug made from smoked roasted eggplant with tahini sauce, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. The presentation of all the appetizers was very good with a nice pattern of paprika on the hommos and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds on the baba ghannoug.
The Lamb Shish Kabab consisted of grilled marinated cubes of lamb served with grilled vegetables and tahini sauce.
The Kafta Bil Jawz was said to be based on an ancient Syrian recipe. The three sausage-like pieces are made of lean ground beef mixed with onions, red pepper, walnuts, bulgur and herbs. The grilled kafta is mildly spicy and it is served on top of a salad with pomegranate dressing.
The beef and chicken Shawarmas are made from meat that has been marinated and grilled. The entrées are served with a neatly formed mound of rice and tahini sauce.
Below is the check for the four entrées and the two appetizers. The total was $98.86, including tax. With gratuity of 15%, the cost of the lunch was $115 dollars or $28.75 per person.
Call the Layalina restaurant at (703)525-1170. Find more information about the menu at its web site: www.layalinarestaurant.com