Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tantalize Your Tastebuds at TarBoush

TarBoush is at 3257 SE Hawthorne
So Rob and I wanted to try something new for happy hour.  Unfortunately, we took so long trying to decide where to go, that it was too late for the drink/food specials we so, we jumped in the car to see where it would take us. We ended up on SE Hawthorne, where TarBoush  suddenly jumped out at us.  Mmmmmm, Lebanese food.  Plus, what a glorious Victorian building.  It looked pricey, but we were going to make it "happy hour," right?  Some appetizers and drinks?  As we climbed up the steps to the entrance, I happily noted that there was plenty of outdoor seating. Upon entering TarBoush, however, I knew I wanted to sit inside.  The interior is phenomenal, with gleaming hardwood floors and dark wood trim throughout.  The decor is authentic and tasteful, and the music perfectly appropriate for the setting.

I was craving a cocktail with rose flavor, and found the perfect one - the Absolute Lemonade made with Absolut Citron, lemonade and rose blossom.  The drink was a bit on the fruit-punchy side for me, but did have that rosy essence I was craving.  I noticed there was a Cucumber Mojito on the drink menu, but saved that one for a return visit. Soon after the drinks arrived, we were treated to a perfectly pleasant pillowy pita (freshly baked and hot from the oven) along with a touch of olive oil and Lebanese spices to dip it in.  I could have died a happy girl right then and there, but then we ordered our appetizers.

We decided on the Shanklish, which is homemade Lebanese cheese, fresh thyme, tomato and onions with a splash of olive oil.  This was so unique and tasty.  The cheese itself was salty like feta but slightly more pungent and spicy.  It went really well with the pita bread.  I later found out from the owner that TarBoush is the only place in Portland that serves Shanklish, and that it is aged for 3 months.  (He also told us he likes to put it on his eggs in the morning). To accompany this dish, we ordered Soujouk, an amazing Lebanese sausage that was the highlight of my evening.  It was salty, and so flavorful that it could easily be overpowering, but a slice enveloped in a hunk of warm pita is truly divine.  I think a sandwich or wrap made of this sausage would ROCK, and Pierre, the owner, said that even though it's not on the menu, he could do it and would even put it in a panini press.  Next time.

After devouring most everything on our table, Rob decided to sample TarBoush's baklava.  It looked lovely and was flaky and scrumptious, made with walnuts.  It was not overly gooey/sticky and some might even consider it a tad dry, but I, for one, loved it.  Then, the owner brought out a dessert that is new to the menu and truly off the beaten path: a fine-rice pudding spiced with caraway and anise and topped with thinly flaked coconut.  Wow, what an experience.  The texture is lightly grainy and silky at the same time, and the flavors truly stand out as it is not overly sweet.  Unfortunately, the name of the menu item/dessert got deleted from my iPhone (where I noted it) but I think it might be called "Moghlie."  Hopefully Pierre will read this post and comment on whether I got the name right or wrong.

So, after my brief rendezvous with TarBoush, I have to share something that will make you very happy. Despite the beautiful surroundings, authentic atmosphere and hip neighborhood, most menu items are extremely affordable!!!  I can't tell you what a value this place is.  There is a wealth of cold, hot and "from the oven" appetizer options in the $4-$7 range as well as very reasonably priced authentic dishes and feasts.  Kids' meals consist of smaller portions of anything on the menu (accompanied by a glass of milk) for 1/2 price. Also, TarBoush offers hookah service from 10:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.  But that's a whole 'nother adventure.


  1. HG_always trying new thingsAugust 21, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    Yes, yes, yes. Completely agree. I now take my friends to Tarboush for their kebabs, kaftas, and Musaka. Great food, good prices.

  2. Thanks for the comment! Almost went there last night for a hookah but chickened out. LOL

  3. Thank you Pierre for the amazing sausages, I can still taste them in my mouth. :} I was impressed, and satisfied with the service we received at TarBoush, including seeing the owner conversating with other patrons - very "hands-on". I would recommend this place to ALL!