mamnoon

modern union of middle eastern cuisines

Spotlight: Lounge Screens

They do more than provide some intimacy and sound-buffering in our lounge: the laser cut poplar wood screens built for us by Seattle’s immensely talented graypants studios are an integral part of the aesthetic and flow of our restaurant. Mashrabiya are latticed wood screens that are a common fixture in Middle Eastern homes and are designed for a combination of shade, privacy, and air circulation. Our screens take elements of the traditional mashrabiya and add a Northwest flair-- the varying levels of opacity created by the star cut-outs were inspired by the patterns of light and shadows in a forest of trees. The wooden screens are a beautiful embodiment of the balance between old and new world, tradition and innovation, and beauty and function found at mamnoon.

Fun fact: the leftover cut-outs from the screens are used as holders for specials and announcements on table throughout the restaurant.

Check out graypant’s website for more images of the screens and details on other awesome projects they have going on.

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I Thought You Were Closed on Mondays? An update on what's been going on with mamnoon junoon.

Two junoons into our newly launched Monday night series and we are off to a rocking start! Mamnoon junoon was hatched as a way to bust outside the box and serve as a creative and fun way to explore aspects of the food and culture of the levant that we may not fit inside the repertoire of our normal dinner service.

Our kickoff junoon event was a six course Moroccan feast that highlighted many of the dishes owner Wassef Haroun and sous chef Sean Dominoski discovered on a trip to Morocco last year. As mamnoon is a Syrian, Lebanese, and Persian restaurant, this junoon was a great chance to experiment with the food of a country that, while geographically close, is really pretty different than the flavors our kitchen usually employs. Some of the highlights from the menu were the merguez (harissa and lamb sausage), seven vegetable tajine with hand-rolled couscous, and a savory goat cheese and herb pastry.

Mehdi Boujrada, Azmi Haroun, and Sean Dominoski getting down on some lunch in Morocco.

We went in a totally different direction for the next month’s junoon, this time choosing to focus on engaging more than just your taste buds. MamnoonTV explored the videos and images of the levant in a rethinking of a night at the theater. We had projection screens set up throughout the restaurant playing clips from various Arabic TV show and music videos, and the entertainment was paired with theater-style snacks: jibneh nachos, za’atar popcorn, kefta sliders, and sujuk hot dogs.

Sujuk hotdog with torschi relish.

If you have suggestions for creative, entertaining, or simply delicious events, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line on the blog or on our Facebook page.

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mamnoonTV coming to you live march 3rd

mamnoonTV is the next addition in our monthly mamnoon junoon dinner series. Join us on monday, march 3rd for an evening that is guaranteed to turn your idea of a night at the theater on it's head.

Our talented and twisted kitchen has prepared a menu of theater-themed dishes inspired by the tastes and flavors of mamnoon. Enjoy delicacies like za'atar popcorn, jibneh nachos and kefta sliders against a backdrop of the videos and images of the levant.

This playful and casual evening is a mamnoon rethinking of a classic. Come break bread with friends and treat all your senses to the magic of the middle east.

Call 206.906.9606 or visit http://www.mamnoonrestaurant.com/ for reservations

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What's the Deal With Drink Service?


Is it lunch? Is it happy hour? Is it okay if I want to just sit and drink alone?


These are all questions that may be swirling through your head as you see blurbs and announcements about mamnoon's new "Drink Service." But, really, the semantics don't matter that much - the takeaway is that we're expanding our services during what is typically the afternoon lull and you should get really excited about that.

We've coined it Drink Service in homage to the tea and coffee experience that is a staple of Middle Eastern hospitality. While it's not a happy hour per se, we've got banging deals on drinks (both boozy and boring), food, and plates of delicious off-menu treats that come gratis with drinks. House-roasted nuts, Iranian pickled vegetables, a confection or two... think tapas-style: order a drink and you get a little sweet or savory nibble so you don't get sloshed on our community table.

We're just trying to spread the love a little farther. Drink Service is conducted in the front of the restaurant at our community table to facilitate socialization and is a tribute of sorts to the warmth of Middle Eastern dining. We're trying to create a casual environment for friends to come in and enjoy the mamnoon energy with a tasty drink and delicious food.

So stop by between 2:30 and 5:30 Tuesday- Sunday to see what the buzz is about. And maybe get one of your own.

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Mamnoon Junoon!

We are so excited to announce the start of Mamnoon Junoon, a series held on the first Monday of each month focusing on foods, arts and humanities. We are kicking off with a six course Moroccan dinner on Monday, Feb. 3. In Arabic, Junoon means a crazy party, a fete if you will.

Through this dinner, we will bring aspects of Middle Eastern hospitality to help melt the ice that builds up with the Seattle Freeze. The dinner will be served family-style and will be done with community seating to facilitate discussion, socialization and mutual appreciation of the delicious and perhaps unfamiliar food on the table. We hope this to be a bonhomie of friends and strangers sitting down to enjoy a beautiful meal together.


mezze

small bites

carotte et orange

shredded carrot, cara cara orange

concombre doux

sweet cucumber, orange blossom water

merguez

lamb sausage, harissa


salade

salad

fennouil

shaved fennel, oil cured olive, soft herbs


briwats

pastry

fromage de chevre

fresh goat cheese, parsley, chive, tarragon

épaule d'agneau confite

lamb shoulder confit, warm spices, onion


légume

vegetable

tajine

seven vegetable tagine, saffron, ginger, hand-rolled couscous, smen, fresh buttermilk


poisson

fish

bar rôti

roasted sea bass, chermoula, herb salad


friandises

treats

gazelle horns

tahini cookies

tangerines


Dinner is $65 per person and does not include gratuity, tax and beverage. We apologize for the inconvenience but we are unable to make substitutions as it is a set menu. Reservations are required for the event as space is limited. Please note that because of the communal nature of the meal, parties less than 8 may be grouped at a table with others. If your party prefers to be at a private table please make a note on your reservation and we will try our best to accommodate, but no promises. Reservations can be made at http://mamnoonrestaurant.com or at 206.906.9606.

Mamnoon to you!

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Spotlight: MamnoonToo Manager Zack Chamberlain

By Zack Chamberlain
As told to Molly Sinnott

Bread is always gonna be bread. It’s so simple, but so necessary and that necessity adds complexity. Any main dish on a dinner table is going to change, but bread is always going to be there and be comprised of more or less the same ingredients. There’s beauty in that simplicity.

Garrett asked me to come on about two weeks before the restaurant opened, and at the beginning it was really just more to help out. I think in a lot of ways that helped me learn things from the ground up and get to know people involved in the restaurant in a different way. This is my fifth restaurant opening in my career and I really love the energy that comes with opening a restaurant. But I’ve never worked a streetside window before, which is really cool. I’ve found out that I am much more of a people person than I ever thought I was in terms of being up front and talking to customers. It’s incredibly dynamic and I find a lot of joy in that. We get to see smiling faces all day and we get instant feedback from customers, which I really appreciate. I also just like making people happy and watching them leave satisfied.  

Our front kitchen is specifically designed to produce this Lebanese-style street food. Being Seattle and not a city that really has a vibrant street food scene, it has kind of morphed into a to-go window and full service lunch. It also offers a great alternative to the more aggressively priced sit down formal dinner that is our back dining room. But I think our front window really balances the two types of cuisines we offer as far as fun and functional and takeaway versus fancy and formal and sit-down. We went through a lot of trial and error. Just getting people to try our food was really tough and it was hard to get people hooked. So we were out there on the street giving out samples and talking things up. We opened completely organically, though, and we haven’t really done any advertising at all. So throughout the past year there’s been a real evolution of the food we offer up front. For example, we’ve changed things from ‘kulage’ to ‘sandwich’ because really it just looks like a sandwich and we’ve adapted some of the elements from a traditional kulage to make it look more like something that Americans will eat for lunch. We’ve had to make it a bit more accessible and easy to order. I think there was a bit of resistance at first but we’ve stayed pretty close to our original path and I think we’re winning in the long run. Sometimes you have to wait for people to take, and people took. It’s exciting.

My job is basically getting everything to function and to be cohesive and I get a huge amount of satisfaction from that. The menu was completely made when I got here, but I had to pull it off logistically. I’m really more of a logistical and detail-minded person than a fancy creator of brand new foods. Which really goes back to simplicity and my initial attraction to bread. It’s the necessities, the staples. So it’s the fact that the two aspects of the restaurant kind of feed each other-- one is a little more playful and one’s more serious-- but they really balance each other out. And the cohesion of the whole place is really important to me, bridging the gap between front and back of the house and between the to-go window and the back dining room. So in a way its larger than a restaurant, it's how people come together to celebrate their passions. 

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Spotlight: Executive Chef Garrett Melkonian

By Garrett Melkonian
As told to Molly Sinnott

It’s kind of amazing how so many of the things that we do here and the approach to hospitality and feeding people is pretty much a direct reflection of what I remember from my childhood. Everything always revolved around food and people and cooking was how they showed people love and respect and admiration. It was the metaphorical hug, to have people eat. It’s amazing how much this place has been able to connect me to some of those really vivid memories. It’s wasn’t until I found myself in a situation that is so closely connected to what initially inspired me to cook that I really remembered these things. It was making dolmeh with Racha’s mom and starting to have a flood of memories of watching my grandmother do it and having her teach me how to roll grape leaves. It's that kind of thing that has made everything feel very fortuitous and really come full circle for me. There is a real feeling behind the hospitality that we do here. There’s a sincerity that exists in that culture that’s expressed through food and it’s been remarkable to be able to take all that I’ve learned through food and use it to honor my heritage and who I am.

There’s a difference between feeding someone and celebrating a cuisine. The restaurants that are out there that serve large quantities of very inexpensive Middle Eastern food are not really celebrating the cuisine and they’re not really celebrating the culture. There’s beauty that exists within this food and there’s a level of preparation that must take place. We’re taking something that is inherently family style and rustic and presenting it with an aesthetic and a refinement that doesn’t move away from the fundamentals, but maybe makes it taste just a little bit better or look a little bit more beautiful. To have an outlet to really showcases that and starts to use more celebrated ingredients— local meat and beautiful organic produce— and to bring those elements together is something that hasn’t really been done before with this food. What we do here is very focused. It doesn’t mean that we can’t incorporate the same elements of ‘local, organic, sustainable’ that other Seattle restaurants are depending upon and building their name upon, we use some of that, but we’re doing it in a way that’s intensely focused. We’re working within pretty rigid parameters when you think about it and as much as we might do something that is maybe outside of the box of Middle Eastern cuisine, it still has to have that authenticity.

We’ve changed so much in the last year and I think the evolution will continue. It’s necessary for a restaurant to evolve because if you don’t, you become static and boring and you become an experience that somebody’s already had. Part of the reason we’re able to do what we’re doing now is that there’s a trust that we’ve built that has allowed us a little bit more creative freedom. It’s allowed us to start to pull ingredients that are decidedly northwest—on one plate we are celebrating two places at once. When we first opened, it was really more about celebrating the origins and at points we had to use ingredients that were out of season in order to hit all the authentic dishes. But right now you’re looking at a Middle Eastern restaurant that doesn’t have tabbouleh on the dinner menu. That’s not something that could have happened when we first opened. We had to prove that we could do all of those other things first and provide a sense of comfort through authenticity. But we showed that we are restaurant with sincerity and some semblance of an old soul, so we were able to take the cuisine and push it forward. And I hope that in the future we’ll start to move away from being somewhat of a black sheep of a restaurant. There was a feeling in the beginning that we were a little bit of a novelty. But we’re moving into a place where we’re being taken very seriously as a restaurant, and not just a Middle Eastern restaurant.

I think people who are really observant don’t necessarily look for inspiration but stumble upon it. I could be inspired by a conversation that I have with Racha and Wassef about a memory from their childhood, or it could be a memory of my own, or it could be going to a 7-11 at 3 o’clock in the morning and seeing something that I find really delicious. For me, the most important thing about inspiration is that it requires a harmony between two things: there must be a healthy combination of passion and humility. To be inspired by something is to acknowledge that something or someone has done something that is worthy of dedicating your energy to. And then you must have passion in order to put inspiration into motion. Those two things are at the heart of what we do here. This is a truly inspired restaurant. And everything else sort of stems from there. It comes at the most unexpected times and the most unexpected places as long as you’re open to that.

I really believe that we are at the forefront of the movement for Middle Eastern cuisine. Our restaurant is staying really true to form and doing at a level that the likes of which don’t really exist, but I think that it will one day. In hindsight—and this doesn’t come from a place of arrogance, it’s a hope— I would hope that as the movement starts to take places and this becomes more than just a trend, that we will be considered the restaurant that helped shape that and really set the bar for it. I think we’re really paving the way for something greater. You won’t necessarily see it now and you might not see it a year from now, but there is a much larger thing that is happening. It’s not tangible, but is definitely palpable.

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Mamnoon Spotlight: Racha Haroun

Mamnoon co-owner Racha Haroun on the Middle Eastern palate and impressing the moms.

Mamnoon has just recently celebrated one year in business. Congrats! Tell me a bit about the journey so far.

It's been exciting-challenging but necessary. Since I am Syrian and Iranian, I feel that it's through the food that guests have been able to appreciate the warmth and compassion that have been part of our cultures for thousands of years.

I grew up eating both foods and for many years shared my love and respect for the food with our friends. It felt like the right time to share with our adopted home, Seattle. We feel honored that people appreciate the experience and share the love of the food.

All the recent events and news are masking the good that’s in these ancient civilizations and I feel compelled to share these positive aspects with Seattle and the greater Northwest community.

How would you describe the role you play at the restaurant?

I really love the creative aspect of mamnoon. Art has always been a very important part of my life and I taught myself to cook the foods that I grew up with while living in Seattle.

I am proud to be part of the creative process of bringing mamnoon to life. Curating the guest experience from start to finish, the feel and the taste.

I was raised with the palate to know and appreciate good Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian cuisines. Our culinary team is exceptionally talented, but not necessarily totally experienced in the cuisine and the desired outcomes. I work closely with our executive chef Garrett Melkonian and the rest of the talented kitchen staff and have been excited to see that they've started to acquire the palate and can now make authentic dishes better than I ever made. Even our most critical guests, our moms, approve! We apply a lot of creativity in presenting dishes that are common in the middle east, but new to most of our guests, to help make the dishes less mysterious and more approachable.

What have been some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of the process?

The most rewarding part is realizing that our hearts are in the right place. We are proud of our foods but we wanted to showcase it in a modern Northwest setting.

We noticed that our children are very proud of our achievement and the fact that hard work and perseverance pays off. The hardest part has been the constant awareness that our families are living in a tense war situation with a very uncertain future. Caring and nurturing mamnoon keeps us busy and sane, while really highlighting the beautiful aspects of our culture.

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We're pleased to announce the winners of our Cocktail Naming Contest!

Below you'll find the 1st and 2nd place winners for all 11 our of specialty cocktails.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated and for all the creative outpouring!

No. 1
1st place: SXSE
2nd place: High West Drifter

No. 2
1st place: Desert Rose
2nd place: Marianne

No. 3
1st place: Mamnoon Mule
2nd place: Kickin’ Kabul

No. 4
1st place: Mighty Aphrodite
2nd place: Sassie Lassie

No. 5
1st place: Old Beirut
2nd place: Figgin’ A,

No. 6
1st place: Mediterranean Crossing
2nd place: Levantine Elixir

No. 7
1st place: The French Rind
2nd place: Gin(ie) in a Bottle

No. 8
1st place: Mid East Algonquin
2nd place: Chic Sheik

No. 9
1st place: Night Owl
2nd place: Turkish Sunrise

No. 10
1st place: Habibti
2nd place: Persephone Rising

No. 11
1st place: Sheherazad’s Fire
2nd place: The Devil’s Wife

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Last but not least - the Mamnoon No. 11!

The Mamnoon No. 11 is not a cocktail for the faint of heart. We've got plenty of drinks that will please just about anyone with a tongue, but this is a drink order for those who like a little bit of risk. This spice bomb is made with vodka, apricot liqueur and lime juice - then topped with a few hearty squirts of fresno pepper extract. A beautiful way to open up your palate before a meal, the No. 11 will make your mouth-and eyes-water.

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if your party is larger than six people, please call to inquire about availability and private dining options. if you are reserving for dinner, please note that the traditional lebanese street food from our window menu is only available at the community table and outdoor tables