After 75 consecutive months of dining together in Worcester, it becomes quite difficult to continue our foodie journey without repeating restaurants, but we manage to persist. This month Giselle selected Sahara, a Middle Eastern restaurant on Highland Street that prides itself on gourmet Lebanese cuisine.

There were 16 of us in attendance and upon arrival, it seemed we all had one thing in mind: what would we be drinking? Although many of us couldn’t even pronounce the Lebanese wines at first, we asked for samples and found that we really enjoyed them. Dana ended up ordering the Lebanese Clos St. Thomas Gourmet Rouge which he described as dry with juicy fruit flavors. Luke also went for a Lebanese wine, Chateau Ksara, a red blend aged for 18 months in oak.

Chateau KsaraNext came the appetizers. The simplicity of Sahara’s grape leaves allowed the hummus to be the star. Everyone who tried the hummus really enjoyed it, especially Robyn who noted her love of Tahini. After quickly finishing the first course, our table came to an agreement that Sahara possesses one of the better hummuses in all of Worcester.

Between the 16 of us, surprisingly almost everyone ordered a different entrée. Some kept it simple with Fatoush Salads while others experimented with dishes such as Port Said Shrimp, Mughrebeeye, Stuffed Cabbage Leaves, Sheikh el Mishi, and various Shawarma plates.

Port Said Lamb paired with Chateau Ksara from Sahara on Highland Street in Worcester, MA

Port Said Lamb paired with Chateau Ksara from Sahara on Highland Street in Worcester, MA

Julie enjoyed her Port Said Shrimp over rice pilaf. The shrimp was sautéed in butter with lemon, mushrooms and a hint of garlic. The sauce was light but had a dominant lemon flavor which she felt enhanced the fresh seafood. Her one wish would be that for the price ($18) there was a little bit more rice.

The Mughrebeeye (huh?!) is a chicken dish that Sahara claims can please the most finicky guests. Lynndzie thought it was excellent and has plans to come back for it. Steve also enjoyed the Mughrebeeye.

Steve said, “The dish smelled amazing when it was served. The taste of nutmeg, and I believe, coriander and turmeric made me instantly think of having this dinner in front of a fire place on a cold snowy December evening.”

I ordered the Sheikh el Mishi ($19), which Sahara likes to call “The King of eggplant dishes!” I wouldn’t disagree with them on that, it was quite large and full of eggplant, ground beef, onions and various spices. My only complaint was that the thick tomato sauce made it a very heavy dish and it was very hot inside the restaurant. Like Steve, I would absolutely order this again on a chilly fall or winter night.

As a group, we agreed that the size of the restaurant was great for large parties but the inside could use a little love. It has an upscale look to it with the gold chandeliers, but the peeling paint on the walls and the dirty carpet were eye sores.

Sahara is open until 2 a.m. every night and offers free, live entertainment every Friday and Saturday evening. (I hear it gets packed on the weekends!) Whether you go for something exotic or an old staple, Sahara’s authentic Middle Eastern cuisine is sure to please even the pickiest eaters.