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Al Nauras
5862 Sherbrooke West

Tel: 483-2607. Mon - Fri 12:00 p.m. - 2:30 a.m., 5:00 p.m.- 9:30 p.m.; Sat 5:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.

Will this place make it? Certainly the west end of town needs a good Middle Eastern restaurant. There is a large Iranian community and substantial groups of Jews, Iraqis, and Lebanese who all know a falafel from a frankfurter.

Al Nauras is a Lebanese restaurant with all the essentials. There is shish taouk with large chunks of chicken breast marinated in lemon juice, oil and a very few herbs. Fattouch is on the menu too; but here it is a generic, fry a pita and crumble it over a bowl of greens, salad. There is also lamb, a few sandwiches and a good variety of vegetarian plates such as Makali which included excellent homous, eggplant, falafel, tabbouleh, and a surprisingly tasty mound of sauteed cauliflower.

This restaurant has should be a success. I have been here a few times and the basics are good. But it is still looking for a formula. Until recently it was a BYOB. Now there is boxed wine by the glass and Boréal on draft. A broken espresso maker hulks in a corner. At one time there was talk of fresh grilled fish. Now a large rotisserie stands ready for use and the menu proclaims that bbq chicken will be available soon. Maybe one day I will try the shank of lamb stewed in tomatoes. Maybe it will be on the menu the next time I am there. Hard to tell.

Think of Al Nauras as the off-off Broadway play that has the script, the cast, and the set. However the director doesn't quite have the backers she needs and the leading man keeps changing his mind about what his role should be every few weeks.

This place should make it. It should be moving upscale. La Louisianne is on the same block. It has shown what a good concept, decent eats, and a committed staff can do. There is not that much difference between what you need for mid-brow Cajun or good Lebanese: rice, potatoes, chicken, a couple of stew-type dishes (gumbo here, mozaat there); add a few decent desserts and a good grill man and you should have a success. So far Al Nauras is not too expensive—lots of dishes under $10. But we are on a cusp. Now we wait and see whether Al Nauras descend to BBQ (and whatever is next!) or sticks to its Middle Eastern roots. —
Reviewed by Barry Lazar

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