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It is no small matter when a chef commits to a restaurant for 27 years – the results of such loyalty have allowed the Cedars of Lebanon to define their niche and highlight dishes from the native countries of the owner and chef: Lebanon and Morocco.

Overall, the dishes my guest and I ordered were well prepared: nice and clean, held vibrant colors, but we did wonder what a couple of ingredients were – and of course once we found out it all made sense! The ingredients were well presented, tasted fresh, and were served piping hot right out of the kitchen.

The mohammara, “a traditional Lebanese dip made with walnuts, pomegranate molasses, bell peppers, spices, ground to paste and served with Romaine lettuce”, served with pita bread, had a good spice to it and wasn’t overly sticky with molasses. The fatayar, “a baked flatbread triangle filled with spinach, pine nuts, onions, olive oil, and lemon juice”, was a little too sour, but if your taste buds like this kind of taste then I encourage you to order this appetizer.

Overall, the flavors of the dishes were tangy, spicy, and delivered to our table without sitting under a heat lamp. The flavors of the chicken chawarma, a Lebanese chicken dish that is marinated, then roasted, and then served with a garlic sauce over basmati rice and vegetables, and lamb tagine, which is a Morraccan lamb curry dish,meshed perfectly well. Cedars of Lebanon could do away with offering salt and pepper shakers on each table, since their dishes are seasoned suitably.

What could have made the dishes better? Our server gave us some secrets that made our dining experience even tastier: squeeze fresh lemon over the fatayar or even
squirt a slice over a bowl of lentil soup. I am sure another Lebanese restaurant could make these dishes, however why try out another establishment when this one has hit the nail on its head?

Our server was charming, informative, and was very comfortable with offering options, allowing us to absorb the knowledge he had about the food/flavors to decide what would best complement each dish we ordered. His recommendations were spot on. Why not have mango juice or mint iced tea while there? No room for dessert? No problem. Our server was personable,and while he gave us insight into the culture at Cedars of Lebanon, it was obvious that he enjoyed working there. His shared experience made me feel that much more a part of the family. It felt good to support our local Lebanese restaurant. To sum up the service – our guy was prompt in serving us and he constantly made sure we had all we needed.

Cedars was nice and clean, but had an old school feel to it, which, let’s be honest – isn’t that what you would expect? There was a lot of décor where we sat: pillows, cushions, middle-eastern seating with large silver platters. Was it too cluttered? Nah, it actually enhanced our dining experience and gave Cedars that unique feeling that you would dream of experiencing in Salt Lake City. The beauty of Cedars is that if you don’t dig that sort of atmosphere, then you have another option, because it offers the best of both worlds: American modern seating with white linen table clothes and sleek chairs or the more traditional seating in another room, as described. Even though the seating is different in the two rooms,the flow of the murals and décor tie the restaurant together.

Cedars of Lebanon is known to have some great cultural entertainment, but one shouldn’t have to make an excuse to see the belly dancers to dine here, because the food in itself is worth the visit. The cost for the food seemed to present the Cedars of Lebanon as more upscale than what it is – offering entrees around $18. So when you are going out for some middle-eastern food there are a few establishments that you might want to scope out before deciding if this is your go-to place. But, if you want to grub downtown and have some tasty dishes from a far away land – then look no further. FYI foodies – Sunday is the day to exploit what Cedars of Lebanon has to offer, because nobody was there on the Sunday when we went and apparently this is pretty common. So, go ahead, take a night off from cooking and treat yourself.

Rating – I would be willing to return.

Edited by SELF
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