Urban Garden Cloaks Lebanese Food In Healthy Disguise

Here's how to make a restaurant appeal to the health-conscious crowd in 2012: Add kale.

Should you plan to serve fried foods and kale in close quarters, you'd better throw in some quinoa too, for good measure.

The European brassica and the Andean seed appear alongside familiarly Lebanese ingredients at George Aboud-Daou's newest restaurant, Urban Garden.

Unlike some of his other restaurants, such as the neighboring Rosewood Tavern or Township, Urban Garden doesn't have the practiced patina of another era. Instead, Urban Garden repackages the flavors of Little Armenia in the trappings of a fast-casual lunch spot.

The decision to stud the chickpea falafel with red quinoa feels a bit pandering, but overall the cooking doesn't sacrifice flavor for healthful appeal. A whole-wheat pita ($9)–smeared with garlic paste, stacked with lamb shawarma painted with tahini and Aleppo-pepper sauce, and accompanied by lettuce, tomatoes, onion and pepperoncini–has the pungent, vinegary flavor you'd expect.

The mix-and-match menu, which can be confusing, allows for many permutations, so you might end up with brown rice, falafel and fattoush ($10), or smoky baba ghanoush, kale-farro salad and stuffed grape leaves ($9). One way or another, you're bound to land on a delicious combination.

Urban Garden, 446 N. Fairfax Ave., Mid-City; 323-951-0900 or eaturbangarden.com