Restaurant etiquette can be difficult to master, but simple rules such as using the smaller fork for salads and the bigger fork to fend off overeager busboys can guide one through an evening out. Learn cutlery’s subtle standards with today’s Groupon to Balade. Choose from the following options:
- For $29, you get dinner for two, valid Sunday–Thursday (a $75 value).
- For $29, you get a dinner for two, valid Friday–Saturday (a $75 value).
- For $55, you get a dinner for four, valid Sunday–Thursday (a $150 value).
- For $55, you get dinner for four, valid Friday– Saturday (a $150 value).<p>
Each dinner includes (per two people): * One mezze (up to a $9 value) * Two platters (up to a $48 value) * Two glasses of house wine (up to an $18 value)<p>
Earning praise in New York Journal and coveted space within the 2012 Michelin Guide, Balade’s menu of Lebanese fare delivers both authentic language lessons and regional culinary staples. Titled as Lebanon’s national dish, kebbeh kras with lean beef, diced onions, and pine nuts ranks as a mezze—a small plate served before a meal, which in English is often referred to as stolen cookies. Roasted nuts and broth pool atop a fillet of market-fresh fish in the sayadieh as rice soaks up the dish’s meaty drippings. Balade’s mixed-grill platter piles beef kafta and lamb kebabs on the same metaphysical plane as chicken tawook to create a sampler of Lebanese flavors grounded by the steady presence of french fries and grilled veggies.
The walls in Balade’s dining room expose cross sections of tree stumps, paintings of Middle Eastern dancers, and brick inlaid with painted tiles. Low wooden rafters and polished hardwood floors gleam in the light cast by dangling lanterns. Positioned on tables and in shadowy corners, ceramic jugs channel a past when humans retrieved water from wells or very deep drinking fountains.
There’s a glossary at the front of Balade’s menu—not that the food is particularly difficult to understand, with its grilled meats, bright veggies, and verdant salads. But it serves as a mouthwatering preview of the flavors to come: there’s laban, the yogurt that serves as a dip for the labor-intensive meatballs known as kebbe; jebne, fresh white cheese; and sumac and zaatar, ground spices that dapple shawarma platters, char-grilled beef, and manakeesh, a lebanese pizza. There’s also an entry for the word “balade” itself: as it turns out, it’s used to describe fresh produce that’s of high quality and usually local. Two-thirds of the ample selection of mezze are vegetarian, including Beirut-style hummus with cumin and vegetables and celery- and mint-spiked spheres of falafel.
Whatever’s chosen from the enormous menu, housemade bread is generally on hand, from the toasty, dimpled manakeesh crusts to pita “pitzas” topped with thin-sliced marinated meats to sandwiches. Refreshing sips include wines and specialty drinks such as sparkling wine with rose water or fruit purée. Though there’s a spontaneous feel to the food and drink, the atmosphere is carefully composed to create what ViaMichelin calls “a welcoming and tasty Middle Eastern experience.” At tables, candlelight flickers across the surfaces of imported clay water pitchers painted with rustic designs. Brick walls and arches are inset with arabesque tiles, and the sawn ends of logs compose one wall, creating a mesmerizing mosaic that instantly soothes any angry lumberjacks who wander in.