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Marhaba is a calm, pleasant dining alternative to the larger, noisier franchised eateries of the Shops at Sunset Place. Begin with the fulsome fatoush salad: a plate of greens tossed with cucumbers, green peppers, radishes, scallions, tomatoes, and pita bread croutons, all splashed in sumac-spiked vinaigrette. Hummus, falafel, and babaghanouj appetizers are the crowd-pleasing favorites here, but the more distinctive dishes are worth trying - especially makdoos, which are baby pickled eggplant filled with a savory relish of garlic and minced nuts. Malfoof is another solid starter, five slender, cigar-shape cabbage rolls stuffed with mildly seasoned ground beef and rice. Most main courses are grilled kebabs of lamb, beef, chicken, or shrimp skewered with peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Best is a long, narrow kafta kebab of spiced, ground lamb. "Marhaba's shrimp" is the only entrée that doesn't touch a grill, the six fleshy crustaceans delectably sautéed with peppers and onions in a zesty tomato sauce. Only two desserts are offered: baklava and a diaphanous disc of milk pudding pooled in rose syrup and capped with pistachios. Marhaba's dining room is brightened with Middle Eastern embellishments, but the décor still looks a little coffee-shop cold. The staff, however, is exceedingly warm.
When Martini Bar Restaurant opened in the Shops at Sunset Place this past December, I read various press notices about how consulting chef Frank Jeanetti would bring fine cuisine to South Miami. Jeanetti has been cooking it up around town for a... More »
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