Folks were somewhat surprised when Bernard Moussa suddenly took over the P’cheen space in the Old Fourth Ward last year. He was at a turning point, having sold his interest in Woodfire Grill, and wanted to open a restaurant that would showcase his Lebanese heritage. He would call it Last Word.
Revamping the interior only took a few months. Moussa added booths upholstered in teal leather and modern white chairs against freshly painted walls which brightened up the space, although the lighting remains dim and moody.
The food menu is brief beginning with snacks, moving into small plates, and featuring a few entree-size dishes near the bottom. Early reports suggested the servings were small for the price. In contrast, the cocktail menu is lengthy offering nearly a dozen signature cocktails. I had a hard time deciphering the complicated ingredients; does acid phosphate, quinine syrup, or arak taste good? LC tried the Lebanese mai tai called The Phoenician made with rum, pistachio orgeat, apricot, and lime while I played it safe with a glass of bubbly.
LC and I enjoy grazing so we started with the Armenian sausage flatbread topped with farmers cheese, radicchio, apple, honey and thyme. One might expect the sweetness from the apple and honey to compliment the bitter radicchio and savory farmers cheese, however, the saltiness of the house made beef sausage, also known as sujuk, simply overpowered the other flavors.
Several of the dishes at Last World include house made labneh, a soft Middle Eastern cheese similar to strained yogurt. One of them was the gulf shrimp with cauliflower, cilantro, and golden charmoula. At $13 for three prawns in sauce, albeit a delicious sauce, I was beginning to think the early reports were correct. We enjoyed this dish, however, we would have liked more cauliflower, and I was disappointed to see microgreens instead of cilantro.
We tried two more dishes, the hand-rolled couscous with braised lamb and house made tagliatelle with mushroom confit. The latter was topped with smoked peanut bread crumbs, resulting in textural genius that reminded me of BoccaLupo’s black spaghetti. Mushrooms and kale were earthy accompaniments to the toothsome pasta.
Local whole baby carrots, turnip, harissa, warm onion jam, and hints of Middle Eastern spices flavored the lamb and couscous dish. The meat was tender and flavorful making for a hearty and satisfying plate.
Once again, labneh was featured in our last dish, this time a sweet composition with roasted dates and figs, lavender honey, and sea salt. The serving of dried fruits was generous but we wished for more cheese and honey to accompany it.
Last Word successfully puts a hipster spin on traditional Middle Eastern flavors, a welcome addition to this trendy neighborhood.
701 Highland Avenue NE 404-343-1274