The experience of Sidon Lebanese Grille & Bakery begins even before you enter the restaurant. Located in a small shopping center on Bancroft, just west of Ottawa Hills, when you exit your car, you’re met by the scents of Middle Eastern spices and fresh-baked bread.
The sleek yet friendly restaurant seems like familiar territory. Toledo is blessed with a number of places which serve good Middle Eastern food so most of us know our way around hummus, stuffed grape leaves and chicken shawarma. But Toledoans who try the Lebanese offerings at Sidon can testify that this is something special.
Owner Bahaa Hariri, who came to our table to talk, says that he and his crew take a great deal of pride in serving up truly authentic Lebanese fare.
“Few other restaurants offer Lebanese food that’s authentic in flavor and in preparation technique,” he adds, “our charcoal-grilled kebabs and our stone-oven pita are our signature items.”
Ah, that pita. Deservedly a customer favorite, this pillowy treat arrives at your table hot and fresh from that stone oven, accompanied by a dish of seasoned olive oil. Losing yourself in this simple perfection, might make you forget that you still have an entrée coming!
Daily specials not to be missed
Entrees—both hot and cold—are terrific. Kebabs of chicken, beef, lamb or lamb sausage. Pita sandwiches. Salads and appetizers, dips and more—even a strong selection of traditional Lebanese breakfast items.
However, be sure to check the daily specials board as you walk in. This is where you can be surprised with something extra-special, even if you’re a regular. “These are dishes that aren’t typically served in restaurants,” Bahaa explains. “It’s truly home cooking.”
My lunch partner and I took his suggestion. I dove into the chicken kapsa: two well-seasoned leg-and-thigh pieces, oven-roasted and served over rice mixed with peppers, carrots and almonds. The kapsa seasoning is fragrant rather than spicy, redolent of black pepper, saffron, ginger and, perhaps, a touch of cayenne.
My partner opted for the vegetable stew with lamb. The vegetables were many and varied: cauliflower, squash, potato, eggplant and carrots, which, along with the tender chunks of lamb, were bathed in a tomato sauce and served with rice pilaf. A choice of salad or soup accompanied both specials.
All this made for two well-filled diners, with plenty to take home in earth-friendly heavy paper takeout containers Sidon provides. We were both too full for dessert, but the rice pudding looked very tempting.
If you’re inspired by your meal at Sidon, you can re-create parts of it at home by visiting the Middle East Market next door. Run by Bahaa’s father, Mahmoud, you’ll find groceries, fresh produce, a meat case and deli delights, with much of the selection meeting halal standards.
Sidon | 4625 W Bancroft St
419-558-3900 | sidongrille.com
Open Monday-Saturday 9 am-9 pm, Sunday 9 am-8 pm.