Sunday meals are a special time for many families. Experiencing traditions while enjoying delicious food with your favorite people. There’s nothing like it. Mother, is most often the brilliance behind these meals. At least, that’s the case at Leila, which opened in November 2019, in the heart of Downtown Detroit. This mother is so good, a restaurant is named after her.
The menu at Leila is a perfect example of the savory, yet simple tastes that describe Lebanese cooking. It is broken down into cold and hot mezze (appetizers), entrees, desserts and coffee. A menu where Muhammara meets Mjaddara, and Falafel is faced with Fattoush. There were familiar dishes as well as items unknown to me. Flavors I’ve tasted before accompanied by recipes of new, uncharted territory. It was the perfect dinner with great company, good conversation, and many new memories.
Cucumber, tomato, pita, za’atar. Classic fattousch. I liked that everything was diced up small. I end up spending 5 minutes or so cutting up my salad so I appreciated this. A chopped fattousch salad, if you will.
Tip: get a side order of the Lebanese rice and mix it up!
Eggplant puree, pomegranate seeds. Flavor wise, this was good. Smoky, with a hint of tartness from the pomegranate seed. Texture wise, I wish this was a little bit more pureed.
Chickpea, fava, spices, garlic sauce, garnished with pickled turnips. One of my favorites! The falafel was seasoned well, perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. It held its shape and didn’t crumble when I broke it apart with my fork (as some do). That garlic sauce, though! Sooo good.
Slow roasted tomato, dukkha (fusion of nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices). The grilled haloumi was delicious with the dukkha. I’ve never had dukkha before, but I liked it. The spiced nuttiness paired well with the grilled haloumi.
Tomato, pomegranate molasses. This is exactly what you think it is, huge cloves of delicious roasted garlic. The pomegranate molasses was subtle and the tomato added sweetness. Nothing like roasted garlic smeared all over warm pita that just came out of the wood fired grill.
Crispy potato, spices. I really liked these potatoes. Crispy on the outside and tender and soft on the inside. Thinly sliced, jalapeno and cilantro sprinkled throughout the potatoes really added a nice fresh kick of spice.
Overall, Leila was enjoyable. The food was delicious and the space was nice. Dim lighting, clean and sophisticated, yet welcoming decor. The bar at Leila is the center, focal point of the dining room. The open kitchen is in the back, facing the rest of the restaurant. The first thing I spotted was the wood fired grill cranking out hot batches of fresh homemade pita. If you haven’t visited Leila yet, stop in and say Hello. You will feel right at home.