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Rimal

94 Boulevard Malesherbes,
Paris
75017
Phone: +33 1 42 27 61 22

Lebanese in Paris?  You’d be surprised how much ethnic food there is to eat in this beautiful city.  Moroccan, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, and lots of Lebanese.  If you need a night off from Snails Bourgogne and Steak Frites, I recommend you go the Moroccan or Lebanese route.  (Japanese, especially sushi, is not the way to go in France.)

saladrimalRimal is one of the most well known and respected Lebanese restaurants in the city, located a bit out of the way in the 17th arrondissement.  There’s also two, Rimal takeaway spots, one just across the street and the other on Boulevard Saint Germain in the 6th arrondissement.  You’ll pull up to find a glass frontage with tables looking out at the street.  The decor is subtle but elegant, with wood floors, white tablecloths and shimmery crystal chandeliers hanging overhead.  The diners are an interesting mix of Persians, Lebanese, and Jews, all speaking in their native tongue.

I won’t sugar coat it: If you’re not a local and you don’t speak French, it’s not the easiest restaurant to navigate.  Rimal definitely caters to regulars as far as service and attention goes, but the food is good enough to suck it up and go anyway.   Though I should warn you about the random bowl of carrot sticks (the kind you’d find on a sad crudite platter) they throw on the table in the beginning.  It is luckily not a reflection of the menu to come.

lambrimalThe menu features a smattering of traditional Lebanese mezze, including a super smoky Eggplant Puree, Fattouche Salad, Grilled Halloumi, Hummus, and Kibbe, (a raw ground Lamb Tartare with bulgur and spices).  There’s Grilled Chicken, Lamb or Quail Skewers, Lamb Chops, Shrimp with Tomato and Onions over Rice, Fried Mullet, and Beef Shawarma for mains.  The way to go here is the Mezze Sampler, which comes with a legit, Lebanese spread of Hummus, Eggplant Puree, Fallafel, super juicy Lamb Sausages and outrageously good Meat Dumplings dosed with plenty of cinnamon and cumin.

semolinarimalI like think the Tabboulé is a great litmus test of a proper Lebanese joint and Rimal’s is addictive.  Out from the kitchen comes an exemplary mix of finely, just chopped parsley with onion, tomato, bulgur and a hint of mint with warm, wafer thin pita to scoop it all up with.   I was also a fan of their Fattoush salad, a crunchy refreshing mix of shredded iceberg, radish, cucumber, peppers in a lemony vinaigrette.  The only starter I didn’t care much for was a warm salad of Favas and Chickpeas, drowning in oil, but I did enjoy a cold appetizer of Green beans, stewed in plenty of garlic, tomato and olive oil.

We sampled the Grilled Lamb with Thyme, and the marinated Grilled Chicken, which comes whole, deboned, and flattened on grill.   It was all finely charred and very tasty.  For dessert, there’s a Semolina Cake Plate, which comes with two versions, one filled with Dates, which was a lot better than the one filled with Pistachio (too dry).  But the best sweet Rimal has going for it is the Baklava, an assortment in different variations, one with shredded kataifi and another with traditional flaky phyllo layering.  And don’t miss the homemade Pistachio, Mango, Strawberry or almond Arabic ice-cream, which give French glace a run for their money.

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