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I write a lot about Albany Park, not just because I live there but because it really is one of the most varied and interesting eating neighborhoods in the city. So it bugs me to acknowledge that a suburb has eclipsed it in terms of Middle Eastern food. But look, Salam is dead to me, and I've encountered some pretty consistent inconsistencies at Semiramis and Dawali lately.
Al-Khaymeih was a good example of this too. At one time it was a great, high-value little Lebanese restaurant with fantastic char-broiled cornish hen (farouj), sumac-dusted fried cauliflower, generous bread, torshi, and mezes, among many very good dishes. Then things started started going to hell. A long and varied menu was suddenly hobbled to one page, and then in December 2010 its license was suspended due to a plumbing permit infraction. It never reopened, and if you spoke to owner Pierre Mounsef of Sanabel Bakery, that had something to do with the lawsuit he had going against his brother George, who runs Al Khyam Grocery, right next to the restaurant.
Lo, back in November, George—whom a judge had barred from entering the property—won the case and the restaurant. This week it reopened, and yesterday I took a peek at the four-page menu, which looks remarkably similar to the old one. The same cook is back too, says George. So is the farouj and cauliflower. George says he's going to introduce new dishes too—broasted chicken, shrimp, salmon—and he's looking for a waitress, if you happen to speak Arabic and English. Until I eat there, I'm going to assume this is a very positive development for Albany Park.
Al-Khaymeih, 4748 N Kedzie Ave, 773-583-0888
In other good news, an outpost of Huaraches Dona Chio, the great Edgewater Mexican restaurant, recently opened at 3119 W. Lawrence, 773-353-5000.