Friends try dinner at Seattle’s Mamnoon

Manmoon Restaurant in Seattle

Mamnoon means thankful in Arabic and Farsi, and I’m guessing Mamnoon’s owners are just that.

Seattle Magazine ranked the Capitol Hill hot spot as the city’s No. 1 best new restaurant; Seattle Met Magazine went all out, naming it restaurant of the year. Those are high marks for a place that only opened in November 2012 — that’s one short year to success, which is something in the highly competitive Seattle food scene.

Wassef and Racha Haroun, rookies to the restaurant business and former Microsoft employees, were born in Syria. Wassef grew up in Lebanon, and Racha is of Iranian descent. Seattle was craving a new Middle Eastern restaurant among all the Northwest and Asian offerings, and Mamnoon seems to have hit the sweet spot as Wassef and Racha drew on their heritage and implemented aromatic, bold Syrian-Lebanese fare.

I ate at Mamnoon last Saturday night during the annual Christmas shopping trip to Seattle with eight or more former co-workers. Every year, we take Amtrak to the Emerald City, check into the Mayflower Park Hotel and then shop, eat and drink. Holly, my former boss, and I started the tradition in 2005, and neither of us has missed a year. Over the years, more co-workers joined us. The group tries new restaurants every year. This year it was Mamnoon, Serious Pie and How to Cook a Wolf. (I didn’t go to Wolf, opting for the pizza, but my friends say How to Cook a Wolf on Queen Anne Hill was terrific.) Last year, it was Poquitos on Capitol Hill, and two years ago, some of us tried The Walrus and The Carpenter in Ballard.

But all eight of us were together for the Saturday dinner at Mamnoon. Four shared small plates; the other four ordered larger dishes. My favorite was fatteh betinjan, consisting of eggplant, tomato, garlic yogurt, pine nuts and pomegranate. It is still calling to me. We also ordered mujaddara, or spiced lentils, short grain rice and crispy onions, and hummus. I’ve heard that they have a red lentil soup, but it wasn’t on the menu just now. I’ll have to return.

One of the dishes that my friends ordered was khoudra, or roasted autumn vegetables, smoked green wheat, walnuts and pomegranate. Does anyone know where or how to get smoked green wheat, by the way? I had a taste and it was way up there on my list for next time.

The restaurant is also open for lunch, dinner or takeout.

If you go: Mamnoon, 1508 Melrose Ave., Seattle; 206-906-9606;

Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 52 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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