Classic Tables: Tanoreen

This Middle Eastern mainstay gets a new home

Although there is no dearth of Middle Eastern cuisine in this city, those who demand more from their lamb and labaneh trek to Tanoreen in Bay Ridge and willingly wait in the queue outside–rain or shine–for the food of owner Rawia Bishara's childhood.

And now's the time to visit: Wait times are shorter (at least for now) since the restaurant's recent move down the block into larger digs. It also helps that Bishara, a grand omnipresence in the room, is now taking reservations and has added a drinks menu–complete with cocktails, arak and a wine list that features a handful of Lebanese bottles.

But the menu, unchanged for more than a decade, remains the tried-and-true reason for a pilgrimage. Certain dishes–like the house special fetti–aren't much to look at, but you'd be shortsighted to let aesthetics drive you away. One taste of this lamb-vermicelli concoction, glossy with a tahini-yogurt sauce, more than makes up for its appearance.

Other little details make for delicious surprises, including an appropriately tangy, house-made labaneh that uses cow's milk instead of goat's milk.

And the kitchen's "tanoreen" seasoning, a custom blend of spices meant to approximate flavors used by Bishara's mother, is alchemical when married with lamb. It enlivens torpedo-shaped kibbe (deep-fried lamb and bulgur pockets) with a warmth of flavor that had us feeling right at home.

Tanoreen, 7523 Third Ave. (at 76th St.), Brooklyn; 718-748-5600 or tanoreen.com