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Thursday, August 18, 2011
Crystal on Penn
Crystal has been on my radar ever since they were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. Crystal is the latter, so of course the selection of a dive bar meant I was the one that got to choose the location of happy hour this week. Dive bars are the best. They aren't pretentious, you are more likely to get free drinks, the owners are always interesting and willing to chat you up, no one talks about austerity measures or corporate governance, everything is cheap as hell, you can do whatever you want and no one bothers you, and finally, they always have damn good music on the juke-box.
I've been going to Crystal for a few years now, it was actually the first place I went after taking the bar exam back in 2009. They always have a way of making you feel right at home. Don't be surprised to see the owner of the bar, Crystal, behind the counter serving drinks and mixing it up with the locals. Crystal features a fairly standard bar menu, save for the selection of specialty Lebanese foods.
I grew up with Lebanese food, so I'm no slouch when it comes to spotting quality. Crystal easily offers the best grape leaves I've ever had in any restaurant, ever. Usually when I get a grape leave it tastes like it was prepared several days in advance, the texture is awful and there is way too much lemon. Crystal offers the perfect grape leave, a well proportioned mixture of meat and rice served fresh and warm. Although I've never had a garlic style yogurt sauce served with Lebanese food, I love that this little concoction comes with anything you order at Crystal. When I asked what was in it they said that they could not tell me unless I was terminal.
I order the same thing everytime I go, combo-platter with tabbouleh and a lamb skewer on the side.(Pictured above) I honestly enjoy it so much that I've never bothered to order anything else from the establishment and I never will. Can you say that about anywhere you eat at?