The goods: Middle Eastern cuisine goes elegantly upscale at Le Pine, a neighborhood spot from Lebanese-born restaurateur Hassib El Zein.
Ambience: Ensconced in the tony enclave of Bay Habor Islands, Le Pine is neatly outfitted with maroon couches, white linens, a roaring brick oven and a handful of sidewalk tables.
The grub: Traditional Lebanese. Chef Fayssal Karout is from Beirut (by way of Michigan), and marries the predictable (hummus, kebabs) with the exotic (stuffed, pickled eggplant; raw kibbe). Prices are reasonable: small plates $6-$8 and mains $20.
Dinner begins with house-made pita served with za’atar-spiked olive oil. The mezze sampler combines hummus, babaganoush, falafel and stuffed grape leaves, while bakery offerings include empanada-like pies stuffed with spinach, cheese or ground meat. Entrees like lamb and chicken shish kebabs and kotfe (ground beef with parsley and onions) are served with couscous or rice pilaf. Specialties include the Makanic, a ground beef and lamb sausage, and the Arayes, a toasted pita stuffed with ground beef, onions and pine nuts.
Dessert is simple — baklava served two ways, the traditional wedge or the “round.”
Verdict: A contemporary Lebanese restaurant with an inviting design and traditional menu.