Eat This Now: Arnabeet (Fried Cauliflower) at Zena's Lebanese Cuisine
Dave Lieberman

Eat This Now: Arnabeet (Fried Cauliflower) at Zena's Lebanese Cuisine

Lebanese restaurants are a godsend when you're entertaining vegetarians or vegans; they're often nice enough for a "nice" dinner, they don't sneak meat into everything, the hospitality is usually wonderful, and the food is genuinely great.

It gets old, though, eating the same pile of five mezze: hummus, babaghannoush, mutabbal, tabouleh and falafel. They vary in quality and quantity, but other than the occasional foray into foul mudammas, the menu is pretty much set.

Not at Zena's, the well-known, popular Lebanese restaurant tucked across the street from the insanity of the Village at Orange's parking lot. There are several options to tempt a vegetarian, the best of which is a plate of cauliflower that has been dropped into hot oil until the florets separate and take on a burnished-coffee color; they're seasoned with salt and lemon when they come out of the fryer, then rushed to the table.

This arnabeet is hard to resist; paired with the generous basket of bread on the table and a small tub of tahini (sesame sauce), you could make a lunch out of this and a lemon- and olive oil-dressed salad. They're also contagious; one table gets an order of them, and the scent wafting through the room makes another table decide it has room for just one more dish.

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