Balade or “local” in Lebanese, an eatery from our country is now open in New York for the last year or so. I came here because I liked the name and just because every successful Lebanese has to be supported and thanked for showing the true flavors of Lebanon to the world. Food was my primary purpose until I met Charbel, a passionate Lebanese nostalgic about the country he left a year ago; he insisted on offering me everything free of charge. I was impressed and amazed.
Balade is a classy diner, a long corridor, wooden boxes, black arcades, a fast-casual with an open kitchen at the end. Two Shawarma skewers, a food display like Chipotle does it, an oven for the manakish and for heating the sandwiches; it feels like a restaurant up in the village.
Charbel is the hero; a passionate chef, he smiles, shouts, spreads happiness, serves, fills your plate to top and asks you a hundred question about our beautiful country Lebanon; he misses Lebanon so much.
A middle eastern eatery in all its meaning; food everywhere, grilling aromas, cooking sounds and a busy chef behind the counter. Lebanese bread, the same as the one we have in Lebanon, super tender and richly flavorful Shawarma, tasty tahini... rice, chicken, makanek and much more. Balade also has a grab-n-go fridge for salads and hummus.
I’ve had the loaded meat Shawarma sandwich; a significant portion of meat, tahini, tomatoes, pickles, beetroot, and lettuce. Charbel toasts it a little and wraps it with branded butter paper. A yummy sandwich, endless flavors, generously filled to explode, much more than any Lebanese restaurant would have done it back home.
I also got a plate of “everything,” Shawarma, makanek, chicken, and beef, but unfortunately, there is garlic everywhere, too much garlic covering the real flavors of our land, but it seems the locals like it this way.
Charbel, feeling the nostalgia of Lebanon, insisted on offering me everything! Not only the food but desserts as well. Mouhallabiya and custard, the way grandma used to do them.
I would have loved to try the hummus, but unfortunately, it contains garlic like everything else.
A happy moment of patriotism; tasty Lebanese food, a Lebanese to spread local happiness. “Balade” New York is proudly Lebanese.