Me Jana, a new place in the Court House/Clarendon neighborhood, is a Lebanese family-owned establishment that mostly serves mezza. Mezza are like appetizers or tapas--small plates. I would prefer to eat all of my meals tapas-style, because I never want to order just one thing, and even an appetizer or two and one entree isn't enough variety. But as you know (if you are a faithful reader, at least), I hate buffets. So tapas are the natural best option, but I not only want Spanish food, I want EVERYTHING in tapas form--enter mezza.
The space at Me Jana is colorful and chic, but still has a warm, cozy feeling thanks to the friendly atmosphere. The restaurant is owned and mostly run by a family, and even though it's just a few months old, I see the owner greeting people by name with a kiss on each cheek. The staff is attentive and helpful with decision-making.
As soon as the menu was posted at Me Jana, I knew we had to go--grilled haloumi, people? The only thing better than grilled cheese (as in bread with cheese in the middle, in a pan with butter) is GRILLED CHEESE (no bread, just cheese...with grill lines...it's low carb and delicious, you should try it). We need to do this list-style. J and I had 5 dishes and dessert for two people. It came in at ~$60 including tip.
Throughout the meal our basket of pita was replenished--the pitas were in an interesting 3D cone shape, and arrived puffy and warm throughout the evening. While the 4-section plate of olives and olive oil was fine with the basket, it was the square of labneh that left me yearning for another trip to the Middle East, also known as "the place where I was meant to live because honestly, where else can you eat delicious fruits and cheeses all day long and call it meals?"
Grape Leaves - I had to try this staple, but ever since I had homemade still-warm GLs two years ago I am a changed person, and these didn't quite measure up. Surprisingly there were a lot on the plate, maybe 6? Good value and they were good, but not close to the best.
Lamb Kebob - J says it was "very good and well seasoned, cooked to a reasonable temperature." I don't like the texture of it (too chewy--are you shocked?) so I passed.
Ablama - Hollowed out zucchinis stuffed with ground beef, spices, pine nuts, and onions. This had serious potential to be REALLY good, but it just wasn't hot enough. I should have sent it back to get reheated, but it was just one of many dishes we had going on, and I didn't get to an actual cold spot until a few bites in...I wondered why. With mezza, it's no big deal to bring out the dishes at a different time, in fact it's NECESSARY because they don't have the table space to bring them all out at once at a table for 2. So why the chill, Bill? The components were there, but the temperature was off and I would have liked the zucchini to be a little crunchier--it would have more zazz if it was less mushy.
Chicken Shawarma - This dish was perhaps our favorite. The chicken, slow roasted in lemon and garlic, was extremely flavorful, and the plating was eye-catching: Four little shawarma sandwiches sandwiched in adorable mini round pitas that had been grilled to grill-mark perfection. The chicken was so juicy and flavorful.
Seared Haloumi - I can't say anything bad about this dish, it was deeeeelicious. Strips of seared cheese with warm slices of date and pear? For my last meal as a death row inmate, I'd like to have 5 portions of the Seared Haloumi.
Kanafe - A warm square (or other shape...) of goat cheese and spices nestled between two thin strips of pastry, topped with pistachios at this particular establishment. I generally really enjoy kanafe, and I liked this one, but didn't love it--maybe it was the pistachio topping, or maybe I was just a little too full.
Me Jana was a lot of fun--I got to eat 6 different dishes and transport myself back to vacation in Israel. You can even go here with less adventurous friends--the chicken shawarma is like a juicy mini chicken sandwich. Who doesn't like that?
2300 Clarendon Blvd
Metro: Orange Line to Court House