Anniversary Dinner at Almayass

Anniversary Dinner at Almayass
There is no sincerer love than the love of food.
— George Bernard Shaw

Last night, Jon and I had dinner at Almayass, a beautiful Lebanese Armenian restaurant on East 21st Street. We shared a delicious appetizer called moutabbal, “mashed charbroiled eggplant seasoned with fresh lemon, sesame paste, and fresh garlic” and their Armenian salad, “fine chopped tomato, green bell pepper, onion, cucumber, with fresh lemon and olive oil dressing.” I’ve long been known to leave a small pile of uneaten onions in my salad plate—not the case here. The onion had practically been minced, toning down its aggressive flavor and making it feel more like an intense garnish.

Jon had a [huge] glass of arak, an anise-flavored liquor similar to the Greek ouzo or Bulgarian mastika we’re used to drinking at home. I went for the Almayass Mojito and was pleasantly surprised by the welcome addition of cinnamon to the refreshing flavors of mint and lime. While I was more than satisfied with my selection, I do have to give credit where it’s due. It was really hard to resist ordering the rose-water-infused Vartini (vart is Armenian for rose). 

For our entrees, Jon ordered a vegetarian kebab plate and I had the aptly named Almayass Delight, “marinated fillet mignon cubes, sautéed with garlic, tomato and parsley, served with rice and grilled vegetables.” The parsley was really what made the sauce sing. I was genuinely sad to finish my last bite of leftovers for lunch this afternoon.

Midway through our meal, Jon looked up at me and said, “We’ve been married a year and I still don’t know how to use utensils.” I still love him.

We rounded out the meal with an unbelievably good Lebanese dessert called ashta with assal, which the menu intriguingly describes as “cream of the milk, topped with honey, almond, and pistachios.” The taste and texture were something like a cross between mascarpone and rice pudding. It was thick and perfectly balanced—not overly sweet on its own, but just right with the addition of nuts and honey.

In a perfect end to the evening, we came home to enjoy a couple of episodes of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix (nerds), took the traditional bite of our frozen wedding cake, and fell asleep watching a slideshow of our wedding day.