In the rough draft of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Princess and the Pea, a royal family discovers a princess's identity by hiding a chickpea under her mattress and waiting to see if she wakes up craving hummus or diamonds. Enjoy a feast fit for a fair maiden with today's Groupon: for $12, you get $25 worth of Mediterranean cuisine and drinks at Bistro LaZeez in Bethesda, Maryland.
Bistro LaZeez specializes in fresh, authentic tastes of the Mediterranean with an emphasis on healthy grilled dishes. Wake up groggy taste buds with an appetizer of herbaceous tabouli ($5.99) or creamy labne ($5.99), a dip made with yogurt and fresh mint. Further fill flavor-starved bellies with the chicken medley ($11.99 at dinner), featuring skinless, marinated pieces of juicy meat basted in secret Bistro LaZeez sauce and served with grilled pita. Or, make a meat-free meal of the falafel sandwich ($6.99 at lunch), which is made up of crispy balls of fried chickpeas nestled snug in a warm pita with lettuce, tomato, radish, pickled turnips, tahini, and a good book. The bistro's contemporary dining room is inviting and elegant, with gold floral accents, dark woods, and eclectic lighting fixtures custom engineered to emit a warm glow that replicates the exact shade of baba ghanoush.
The Washington Post, Zagat, Bethesda magazine, the Gazette, and Tasting Table have all reviewed and raved about the cuisine at Bistro LaZeez. Bethesda also awarded the restaurant "best grilled chicken" in 2010. Yelpers award the new restaurant a near-perfect 4.5-star average:
- In Arabic, “lazeez” means “delicious,” and after my first meal at Bistro LaZeez at 8009 Norfolk Ave. in Bethesda, I’d have to say the food is true to its namesake. – Carole Sugarman, Bethesda
- Bright yellow umbrella sidewalk tables invite passersby to step into this modish Bethesda Middle Eastern boîte, where boldly flavored Syrian and Lebanese home-style staples contrast with its modern black, gray and taupe decor; it hasn’t take long for its signature grilled chicken to draw area foodies for an inexpensive culinary voyage to the Levant. – Zagat
Cooking began as a hobby for Reda Asaad. Along with his wife Nadia, the local Arabic teacher would often host barbecues for friends and students, feeding the masses with dishes such as his signature grilled chicken with a marinade of aromatic Middle Eastern spices. After friends and students alike continued to insist that the couple open a restaurant and share their recipes with the public, the Asaads founded Bistro LaZeez. They never lost sight of their cuisine’s backyard barbecue roots, though. As Reda explained to The Washington Post, “what I cook in the restaurant is what I cook at home.”
Garlic, coriander, cilantro, turmeric, and cardamom appear throughout the menu and reinforce its Mediterranean and Middle Eastern origins. In addition to roasting kebabs, all-natural lamb and tender beef, Reda still prepares his signature antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken dishes, which helped Bistro LaZeez earn a nod on Bethesda Magazine's 2013 list of 25 Favorite Ethnic Restaurants as well as win the magazine's 2010 award for Best Grilled Chicken. The selection also includes vegetarian items—such as traditional falafel and hummus—as well as a number of gluten-free dishes.
Although the menu is steeped in classic, homespun tradition, Bistro LaZeez’s dining room appears to embrace a more modern ambiance, complete with clean lines and a simple color scheme. Dark walnut chairs and olive green banquettes flank the room’s tables, which complement the neutral earth tones of the walls. Three small crystal chandeliers hang above the booth-lined wall, casting their light across the white marble bar and the sandy tiled floors.