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Larsa, Lebanese, Skokie

Larsa, Lebanese, Skokie
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  • Post #61 - March 4th, 2011, 1:16 pm
    Post #61 - March 4th, 2011, 1:16 pm Post #61 - March 4th, 2011, 1:16 pm
    I'd give it another try, Ronnie.

    Highlights (to me) are the Mediterranean salad: thick-chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions with a fantastic dressing, sprinkled with fresh herbs--I think oregano & mint. Then there's the veggie pita (wrap or laffah): a foot-long burrito-style thing with a melange of flavors, outstanding & relatively healthy. Both the lentil & chickpea soups are subtly stellar. On the side (complimentary with dine-in) are the torshi, pickled vegetables. Love 'em.

    No doubt, tough competition with Pita Inn. Larsa's falafel pale in comparison, but so do most everybody else's. I think the kefta and the kabobs are on a par.

    Haven't tried their 'pizza' yet, but I enjoyed so many out of that oven as a kid at La Rosa's, it's almost blasphemy now!
  • Post #62 - March 4th, 2011, 1:26 pm
    Post #62 - March 4th, 2011, 1:26 pm Post #62 - March 4th, 2011, 1:26 pm
    Perhaps we need to consider creating a Dempster St Lunch Group. We could start at WASC and work our way west.
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #63 - March 4th, 2011, 1:49 pm
    Post #63 - March 4th, 2011, 1:49 pm Post #63 - March 4th, 2011, 1:49 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:What time do you typically go there? We get lunch from Pita Inn often enough that Larsa's would be a no-brainer. We had a couple of lackluster lunches there and it fell off our rotation a while back. Maybe we should give it another try.

    I'm usually there in the middle of the afternoon, sometime between 2 and 4. I think the best time to be there is on one of the weekends when the main room is reserved by a large, merry group of expatriate Iraqis, but that's hard to plan for.

    I will say that I'd stopped getting shawarma there because it had been rather uneven. Lately, though... man.

    Not sure how well it would travel -- I suspect not well at all. I'd also avoid the falafel (not bad but nothing special). I stick by my previous recommendation of the (vegetarian) grape leaves, though. And I believe there are two veggie sandwiches: one with cauliflower, the other with eggplant. Both are quite nice.
  • Post #64 - March 9th, 2011, 3:06 pm
    Post #64 - March 9th, 2011, 3:06 pm Post #64 - March 9th, 2011, 3:06 pm
    I'm very glad that this thread was bumped with current information. After at least a few years of not ordering from Larsa's, we ordered up a carry-out lunch for our office today and really enjoyed a lot of what we ate . . .

    Hummus - Very creamy and looser than most versions I usually have. Excellent flavor up front and a satisfying aftertaste.

    Baba Ghanouj - Smokiest version I can remember. Great depth of flavor. I normally don't love baba because of the smokiness but I could definitely see getting this one again because of how smokey it was. A really nice and well-executed rendition.

    3 breads:
    Laham Ajeen - Delicious, and the fresh zesty and toppings just blow away a sad version of soujouk I recently had at Taza bakery
    Manna Eash - zaatar-like and quite spectacular. The texture was perfect -- a little crispy, a little tug to it -- and the seasonings were really flavorful and aggressive, without being entirely overbearing.
    M'Hammarah Pita - hot and spicy sauce atop this bread was really flavorful but it was a tad dry. Still, probably a great order-in item.

    Tubule - didn't love this. Parsley was too coarsely chopped, it wasn't acidic enough for my taste and the bulgur was to scare, too.

    Lentil Soup - hearty and comforting with a great intense flavor.

    Falafel - I'd say these didn't travel very well but they do travel fairly well from other places, so I'll just say that they were hard and dense and not very flavorful. However, one of my co-workers ordered a falafel pita sandwich and really loved it.

    Larsa's Combo Plate - in addition to beef shawirma, chicken kabob and kifta kabob, this plate includes, rice, torshi (delicious and interestingly varied) red onion and pita. Surprisingly, the chunks of white meat chicken were my favorite. They were very flavorful and juicy. I thought the shawirma and kifta were both tasty but fairly dried out. Still, I can see how when ordered at the right time (or eaten in), these could be very good.

    Hot Sauce - fiery and complex in flavor. A really exceptional version.

    Tahina - zesty and flavorful; contained some herbs, which I liked.

    I can't wait to give Larsa's another shot. I could easily create a number satisfying lunch combinations just ordering hummus, baba, soup and breads and yet I know there's a lot more here that's worth ordering. The menu is large and offers a lot of tempting items. I look forward to next time. Thanks again, cilantro, for posting that update. I'm grateful that you did.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #65 - March 9th, 2011, 3:44 pm
    Post #65 - March 9th, 2011, 3:44 pm Post #65 - March 9th, 2011, 3:44 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:3 breads:
    Laham Ajeen - Delicious, and the fresh zesty and toppings just blow away a sad version of soujouk I recently had at Taza bakery
    Manna Eash - zaatar-like and quite spectacular. The texture was perfect -- a little crispy, a little tug to it -- and the seasonings were really flavorful and aggressive, without being entirely overbearing.
    M'Hammarah Pita - hot and spicy sauce atop this bread was really flavorful but it was a tad dry. Still, probably a great order-in item.



    Were these baked to order? I will have to check out Larsa's when I get a chance.

    I don't know Ronnie, but describing the soujouk at Taza as "sad" seems a bit harsh to me. Obviously I didn't eat the same soujouk you did, and there is no accounting for taste, but I don't think I agree with you here.

    For some reason I feel like this post is the nail in the coffin that is the Taza GNR nomination.

    Thanks for the intel.

    H
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #66 - March 9th, 2011, 4:02 pm
    Post #66 - March 9th, 2011, 4:02 pm Post #66 - March 9th, 2011, 4:02 pm
    Habibi wrote:For some reason I feel like this post is the nail in the coffin that is the Taza GNR nomination.

    Not sure why that should be. I, for one, love both places. There's some overlap in what they serve, but they really are different types of establishment: one's a bakery, the other a sit-down restaurant. To me, each does some things better than most anyone else. And yes, Larsa's bakes their breads to order -- they have a pizza oven too. The wonderful laham ajeen has had its praises sung here many times before.

    Glad you had a good lunch, Ronnie.
  • Post #67 - March 9th, 2011, 4:09 pm
    Post #67 - March 9th, 2011, 4:09 pm Post #67 - March 9th, 2011, 4:09 pm
    Habibi wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:3 breads:
    Laham Ajeen - Delicious, and the fresh zesty and toppings just blow away a sad version of soujouk I recently had at Taza bakery
    Manna Eash - zaatar-like and quite spectacular. The texture was perfect -- a little crispy, a little tug to it -- and the seasonings were really flavorful and aggressive, without being entirely overbearing.
    M'Hammarah Pita - hot and spicy sauce atop this bread was really flavorful but it was a tad dry. Still, probably a great order-in item.



    Were these baked to order? I will have to check out Larsa's when I get a chance.

    I don't know Ronnie, but describing the soujouk at Taza as "sad" seems a bit harsh to me. Obviously I didn't eat the same soujouk you did, and there is no accounting for taste, but I don't think I agree with you here.

    For some reason I feel like this post is the nail in the coffin that is the Taza GNR nomination.

    Thanks for the intel.

    H

    Habibi,

    I wasn't the picker-upper on this order but my partner thinks, yes, the breads were made to order. They do have a pizza oven, which is why he thinks this but he doesn't know for and we didn't ask.

    I absolutely loved the zaatar at Taza but the soujouk I was served there was pretty lifeless. It was bland and soggy. The Laham Ajeen at Larsa's was bright, spicy and not soggy in the least...and this was after a 15-20 drive back to our office. I was genuinely impressed by it but I'd bet that you know far more about how these items are supposed to be than I do.

    As for GNR debate, it ended on Monday evening. My post should have no bearing on the outcome whatsoever.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #68 - June 24th, 2013, 12:58 pm
    Post #68 - June 24th, 2013, 12:58 pm Post #68 - June 24th, 2013, 12:58 pm
    The availability of the unusual combination of pizza and Assyrian food has led us to Larsa's several times over the past few months. Our children are very picky eaters and Larsa's presents the opportunity for pizza for the kids and some more interesting choices for Mom and Dad.

    It was interesting to see that this restaurant was reviewed so heavily several years ago and now seems not to get much attention. Some current impressions are that the baba ghanouj is still very smoky and good, the various flat breads are still being served up and are delicious and the pickles still exude copious amounts of tumeric. I had the chicken schwarma recently and I didn't think it was particularly outstanding, at least not to the extent extolled upthread. That makes me wonder what we missed by not getting here sooner. My wife has enjoyed the basa. I am also very fond of the yoghurt drink that is available here. It has quite a kick of sourness and is very refreshing. The Mediterranean salad tastes very fresh and well spiced and the potato kibbe was surprisingly not greasy.

    The restaurant received all new tables and chairs and new overhead light fixtures in May. It is a pleasant room. We have been here when we are the only customers in the place and another time we have shown up and been unable to get a table because it was so full. My sense is that it is busiest on Sunday evenings and overall my outside impression is that business is on an upward swing.

    The service we have received has been very attentive and personable.
  • Post #69 - June 24th, 2013, 1:11 pm
    Post #69 - June 24th, 2013, 1:11 pm Post #69 - June 24th, 2013, 1:11 pm
    It's very interesting that you chose today to post about Larsa's. I woke up this morning thinking that it's been ages since I've been there and I suggested to a friend that we meet there for lunch. Alas, when he got there he discovered that Larsa's is closed on Mondays. Your post almost insures that I won't wait very long before getting back there on a day that isn't Monday.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #70 - June 24th, 2013, 5:17 pm
    Post #70 - June 24th, 2013, 5:17 pm Post #70 - June 24th, 2013, 5:17 pm
    That is quite a coincidence.
  • Post #71 - June 24th, 2013, 6:22 pm
    Post #71 - June 24th, 2013, 6:22 pm Post #71 - June 24th, 2013, 6:22 pm
    bw77 wrote:It was interesting to see that this restaurant was reviewed so heavily several years ago and now seems not to get much attention. Some current impressions are that the baba ghanouj is still very smoky and good, the various flat breads are still being served up and are delicious and the pickles still exude copious amounts of tumeric. I had the chicken schwarma recently and I didn't think it was particularly outstanding, at least not to the extent extolled upthread. That makes me wonder what we missed by not getting here sooner.
    I have never thought the shawarma at Larsa's was very good. I found the meat to be dry but mushy at the same time(like wet sawdust). I'll suspect the problem was going there at lunchtime, and getting Shawarma that was left over from the previous evening. I think the meat may have been pre-cut, allowed to dry out, then re-marinated and reheated. I have seen this at other places. That would explain the vast differences between various opinions. I'll bet these dishes are more consistent in the evening.

    That said, I do not go to Larsa's for the Shawarma or other run of the mill "Middle-Eastern" dishes. There are other places (even in that neighborhood), that do a much better job. I go to Larsa's for the amazing flat breads and pitas that they produce in their pizza-oven. Most places seem to just use pitas with different toppings, but each of Larsa's breads has its own texture and consistency. These vary from thin and crispy Mana Eesh to moist and chewy Lahimmbejin (or Lambachun). I think Larsa's makes the best versions of these breads in the Chicago Area, and the Hummus and Baba Ganouj (although both are tasty) are mostly excuses to eat their wonderful thin pita bread. I am pleased to see that Larsa's is now offering a variety of wraps made with their top notch pitas.
  • Post #72 - June 25th, 2013, 11:41 am
    Post #72 - June 25th, 2013, 11:41 am Post #72 - June 25th, 2013, 11:41 am
    Still a regular here. In addition to the other recommendations already mentioned, I like the catfish very much. Definitely spring for the (tomato-based) sauce, but you may want to get it on the side, as there is a lot of it.

    I will say that the last time I tried a bit of someone's baba ghanoush, I found it somewhat watery. May have been a one-off, I suppose, as I remember it being much better previously. Anyway, as d4v3 says, it's best to stick to the specialties.
  • Post #73 - November 28th, 2013, 7:46 am
    Post #73 - November 28th, 2013, 7:46 am Post #73 - November 28th, 2013, 7:46 am
    Along with friends, my wife was at Larsa's several weeks ago and reported back a fairly nice experience. We decided it would be a nice place for a family gathering so arrived there last night with a party of ten (we called ahead for a reservation). After last nights experience, I'm not sure we'll ever be in charge of "picking the place" again. They did have a table set for us, which could have been the highlight of the evening. After waiting more than ten minutes for water/menus, it took almost another ten for the lone waiter to come back for our order. I should note that at this point there were two other occupied tables, both of which had their orders taken promptly. We ordered appetizers of hummos and baba ganouj, both of which I though to be fairly pedestrian. When we asked for another basket of pita beyond the singular one which was delivered in the table, it never appeared. The dinner orders were a cornucopia of their menu. I had a bowl of the lentil soup which was good, but would have been better if it were served at more than room temperature. My wife said that at her previous visit the received bowls of pickled veggies, which indeed we saw being delivered to other tables last night. We asked the waiter about them and he said that indeed they "come to every table". As of this morning, we're still waiting for them. The kids ordered pizza which was pronounced to be "OK". My beef shwarma was also OK at best, with the meat being a little stringy and the onion being so overpowering that both my wife and I had to open our sandwiches to pick it out. My daughter ordered a kabob dinner and after cutting into it, discovered several hairs, the color of which definitely did not match hers. By this time it was impossible to find the waiter who had disappeared backstage. I went to the front counter and who I suspect is either the owner or manager got up from drinking coffee in the bar area to ask what I needed. When I explained the situation his response was "oh", after which he turned and walked away. After about five minutes the "waiter" came to the table, leaned over to me and said "sorry about the hair". and asked me if there was anything else I wanted. I asked him to please speak to my daughter since it was her meal and she is completely able to speak for herself (she teaches high school in the same district where the restaurant is located!). He asked her if there was anything else she wanted or...now get this...if she wanted her original food wrapped up to take home! She replied that she would think about it for a few minutes and would he please come back. The next time we saw him was when he dropped the bill in front of me, without ever again asking her if she wanted to order another meal. All in all a not great experience at a place we won't be going back to, ever. I had to laugh when I saw that they had included an 18% tip on the bill...
  • Post #74 - July 14th, 2017, 7:29 pm
    Post #74 - July 14th, 2017, 7:29 pm Post #74 - July 14th, 2017, 7:29 pm
    Bumping this (LONG overdue) thread since it is a legitimate kabob contender to the relocated Kabul House. It's one of the most under-the-radar restaurants in the Skokie-Evanston area. Give it a chance if you have any inclination towards Mediterranean/Lebanese cuisine. Wonderful lentil soup, basmati, and salad dressings add a valuable touch.
  • Post #75 - July 14th, 2017, 7:34 pm
    Post #75 - July 14th, 2017, 7:34 pm Post #75 - July 14th, 2017, 7:34 pm
    Bumping the more current/correct thread.
  • Post #76 - July 14th, 2017, 8:02 pm
    Post #76 - July 14th, 2017, 8:02 pm Post #76 - July 14th, 2017, 8:02 pm
    bweiny wrote:Bumping this (LONG overdue) thread since it is a legitimate kabob contender to the relocated Kabul House. It's one of the most under-the-radar restaurants in the Skokie-Evanston area. Give it a chance if you have any inclination towards Mediterranean/Lebanese cuisine. Wonderful lentil soup, basmati, and salad dressings add a valuable touch.


    I had lunch there with another LTHer recently, after a much too long absence. Although I prefer the Lebanese style kabobs at Kabobbi, I really liked the falafel sandwich that was served on baked to order lavash, as well as the cold salads (hummus, baba ganoush, etc.).
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #77 - December 28th, 2017, 1:37 pm
    Post #77 - December 28th, 2017, 1:37 pm Post #77 - December 28th, 2017, 1:37 pm
    5 of us had a really great, satisfying lunch here a couple of weeks ago. We ordered a bunch of items and with one minor exception, enjoyed them all. Winners included Beef Shawarma, Chicken Kofta, Hummus, Laham Ajeen and Jerusalem Salad. And I want to make special mention of the house-made Torshi, which is the best version I can remember ever having in town. Even the rice and lentil soup, both included with entrees, were excellent and, imo, far superior to those served at that bigger more well-known place just down the street. Their hot sauce, available upon request, was quite delicious, too. The only item I wouldn't order again is the Chicken Shawarma, which had fine flavor but was comprised entirely of neatly cut slabs of boneless chicken breast, which paled in comparison the beef version and the kofta.

    Service was warm, friendly and very personal. Not only is the food great at Larsa's but it's definitely a feel-good kind of place, too.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #78 - December 28th, 2017, 2:28 pm
    Post #78 - December 28th, 2017, 2:28 pm Post #78 - December 28th, 2017, 2:28 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:5 of us had a really great, satisfying lunch here a couple of weeks ago. We ordered a bunch of items and with one minor exception, enjoyed them all. ...
    Even the rice and lentil soup, both included with entrees, were excellent and, imo, far superior to those served at that bigger more well-known place just down the street.

    Great to hear my standby came through for you and the rest of your group Ronnie. Especially at a time when nothing seems to be tasting as well as it used to.

    I'm glad you echoed my point re basmati & lentil soup. Now take the next step and get the lamb and chicken kabobs to really capture Larsa's best.
    Last edited by bweiny on December 28th, 2017, 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #79 - December 28th, 2017, 4:50 pm
    Post #79 - December 28th, 2017, 4:50 pm Post #79 - December 28th, 2017, 4:50 pm
    bweiny wrote:Now take the next step and get the lamb and chicken kabobs to really capture Larsa's best.

    Will do. I'm moving my office pretty soon and after that Larsa's won't be nearly as convenient a stop as it is now.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #80 - December 29th, 2017, 12:09 pm
    Post #80 - December 29th, 2017, 12:09 pm Post #80 - December 29th, 2017, 12:09 pm
    I’ll put in another plug for the catfish. Sauce on the side.
  • Post #81 - October 9th, 2018, 8:28 pm
    Post #81 - October 9th, 2018, 8:28 pm Post #81 - October 9th, 2018, 8:28 pm
    Fortunate circumstances landed me a chip shot away from Larsa's today. We took full advantage, and had a great lunch . . .

    Image
    Torshi
    Everything from apples to cauliflower to jalapeños, these pickles were outstanding. So too, was the house-made hot sauce that we had with our entrees.

    Next, there was an outstanding cup of the vegetarian lentil soup, which I neglected to photograph.

    Image
    Laham Ajeen
    Hot, crispy and flavorful. I loved the herbaceousness.

    Image
    Beef Shawarma & Hummus
    Every bit as outstanding as it looked. Juicy, flavorful meat with a great crust. The hummus was loose and rich.

    Image
    Ground Chicken Kifta Kabob & Hummus
    Our request to substitute this kifta for the chicken (breast) shawarma that normally tops the hummus was accommodated graciously. And while I enjoyed it more than the shawarma, it didn't come close to the beef pictured above. Larsa's is great but chicken doesn't seem to be their forte.

    I drove by a very busy Pita Inn -- with its over-capacity parking lot, where a fender-bender seemed to have just taken place -- to get to Larsa's and couldn't help but think what a shame it was that we were 1 of only 3 parties in Larsa's. The food's great and the service is beyond friendly. I guess I get it. People really love their brands but Larsa's seems to need some (LTH) love.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #82 - October 10th, 2018, 8:52 am
    Post #82 - October 10th, 2018, 8:52 am Post #82 - October 10th, 2018, 8:52 am
    We have dinner at Larsa's about once every other month or so. We always look forward to it as quiet place with excellent food at the end of a hectic week. As you say, often there are not many people in there, but then there will be the periodic day when parking is more difficult and the place is crowded. I think they may also be doing a good delivery/take out business. From time to time we find their flyers on our front porch and in the evenings its not unusual to see someone standing up front waiting to pick up an order.
  • Post #83 - October 10th, 2018, 9:51 am
    Post #83 - October 10th, 2018, 9:51 am Post #83 - October 10th, 2018, 9:51 am
    I too remain a loyal customer of Larsa's, picking up every 3-4 weeks on average. No drop-off in quality at all.

    Looking back, my December advice to Ronnie re "lamb and chicken kabobs" may not have been specific enough to capture my experience. I was referring to lamb shish kabob and shish tawook (chicken), not the ground kefta kabob version of either. Also worth getting a side of garlic sauce for the meats.

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