I had my first experience with two new things last week:
- Layla, a new fabulous Mediterranean grill (4751 S Holladay Boulevard in Holladay,Utah)
- Eating and talking about food at Layla with a handful of cool food bloggers
I arrived late and met those cool food bloggers I was telling you about. Tony Tadros, the young owner of Layla, had already started us on the small plates. There was a beautiful orange Fire Roasted Red Pepper Hummus that was everything you would hope it to be and more--of course, using some of the crisp wedges of pita bread to dip. What was even more lovely was the Mahammara Walnut Spread. Two words, people--pomegranate molasses. For those of you have a sweet tooth, this is for you!
Tiffany of foodfinery and Heather of Salt Lake City Lunch Examiner both encouraged me to try the fries and dip. Fries and dip? At a Mediterranean grill?? The fries are tossed lightly with their Zaatar spices (I'm convinced they are secret, magical spices) and accompanied by a dipping sauce--a mild harissa aioli. Despite the awesomeness of the fries and its magical spices, they took a back seat to the smooth, garlicky dipping sauce.
Jessica of foodieslut snapped pictures of Halloum Cheese, a sheep's milk cheese, and asked if she could have the last piece of cheese from the plate. I was about to fight her for the salty, rich cheese that had been pan-fried, but I behaved. When you try it, make sure you pair a piece of cheese with a slice of cucumber and tomato. It's balanced and refreshing.
We all decided we just couldn't stop at the small plates and ordered entrees. Josh got this Beef Shawarma. When I had a little bit of the meat, it tasted like it had some cinnamon in it. Pleasant and sweet.
I got the Morgan Valley Lamb Kabob. The server encouraged me to get it medium rare. And I'm glad I did. The lamb was so tender and juicy--just like eating a steak.
There is something I like to call the "I-wish-I-would-have-ordered-that-too" dish. Heather got that dish. Dont' get me wrong--I enjoyed my kabob, but she ordered Layla's signature Lebanese Moussaka, which was light and sweet. It seemed like there was a hint of cinnamon there too. I'm ordering it on my next visit.
Naturally, we finished things off with some dessert. I ordered a Lychee Ice Cream, which was strongly lychee (this is a good thing, since most lychee-flavored things are barely noticeable) and a delightful texture. We also tried the Layla Blossom Ice Cream (Orange Blossom) which had the expected orange flavor, but also an almost flowery taste to it. The Layla Rose Ice Cream (Rose water) was surprising--it really tasted like roses. I had no idea you could make that familiar rose smell into a taste. It was a little odd. The Pistachio Ice Cream was hands-down my favorite. I don't know how they did it, but it seemed like that ice cream was twice as creamy and thick as the others. Plus, lots and lots of whole pistachios!
Ryan and Melissa of sweetchocolat passed down their Birds Nest, with pistachios nestled in this pretty, flaky, golden phyllo dough. Nutty, crunchy, and sweet--a perfect last bite.
Thanks to those cool bloggers that made the evening so enjoyable. I am looking forward to my next bite at Layla!