Restaurant Review: Bayroot (Shrewsbury, NJ)

Bayroot is very similar to the previously reviewed Galata. Instead of Turkish food, we have Lebanese. While I never had this kind of cuisine before, the menu was very similar to Galata’s and other middle eastern restaurants I have been to. Bayroot is a play on the word Beirut, which is the capital city of Lebanon. Right after we sat down, we were given menus by the owner. He asked if we had ever eaten there before. While it came highly recommended, and my mom had gotten takeout at work from there, this was indeed my first time. He took a few minutes to explain the menu and lunch specials, also making sure to note how fresh and handcrafted everything was. He described the cones of meat which are hand-carved, saying how they do not receive these pre-made, but rather, make them in-house. There was an apparent pride in his speaking, and it made me excited to dig in.

The lunch specials looked delectable. There were kebabs and shawarma, falafel, and even filet mignon, all for $11.99. As the owner said, “Can’t go wrong”. Each protein was accompanied by a small scoop of rice, salad, and a dollop of hummus. I went with the Kafta Kebab, which is a blend of lamb, beef, and spices, and rolled into what looks like a sausage. It was cooked to perfection—tender and juicy. The spices were fresh and not overwhelming. I also loved the rice, which was beautifully fluffy. As for the hummus, it may be the best I have ever had. It’s amazing to see the differences in consistencies and preparations from one establishment to the next. Galata’s was drier and had a hint of cumin. Bayroot’s was rich and creamy, almost like a whipped butter, with a strong olive oil taste. There was only one problem…nothing to dip in it!

There was no pita bread given with this meal. At Galata, they gave you a complimentary basket to start you off, along with a small bowl of olive oil. They even gave free refills on the bread, and their lunch special prices were $1 cheaper. Sahara 34 does the same thing, and even added white sauce. But there was no pita bread to be found at Bayroot. I wasn’t even looking for some free bread—I would have paid for it. But the server was MIA after bringing our meals, and by the time she came back, we were done and the point would have been moot. What a tragedy: the best hummus I’ve ever had in my life, and no bread to be seen.

The only bread we did have was an appetizer, the Cheese Arayes. This was a what’s-not-to-like dish of pita bread stuffed with mozzarella cheese and grilled. You could actually taste the grill. The cheese was melted and stringy. I think it was brushed with oil or butter as well. Totally delicious. But to receive only one piece of pita bread (cut in half ) for $5.95 was a little bit of a rip-off.

My mom’s meal was the beef shawarma. This too tasted great. The meat was lean, shredded really thin, and probably tossed on the grill to give it a nice crunch and char. I enjoyed the taste I had of her’s. For dessert, we tried the Baklava which was made with pistachios. This was another too-expensive-for-what-you-get portion. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it. I thought the Baklava was well-constructed and not overly sweet as this dessert normally is. Nor was it soaking wet from being drenched in syrup or honey. But three tiny squares for $6.95? I’ll pass next time. On the flip-side, their Turkish Coffee was only $2.50 and came in a small pot consisting of two servings instead of just one. Win some, lose some.

The food was delicious, but I think they need to work on their prices. I wouldn’t mind giving them a second try, but when compared to similar restaurants, I think they get out-shined. The service was pleasant and the owner went around to each table in the dining room, which is a nice touch. I am going to give them a 4 out of 5 stars, but I’d rather go to Galata or Sahara.

Bayroot Lebanese Restaurant is located at 555 Shrewsbury Avenue in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

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