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Ilili, New York’s contemporary dining venue

Filed by Lucire staff/January 9, 2011/8.27

David C. Lee/Destination Luxury

Ilili (236 Fifth Avenue, New York, between 27th and 28th Streets; 1 212 481-4523) is a festive, loungy venue with high ceilings, beautiful people and a stunning contemporary design. When walking down Fifth Avenue, the space is so narrow that you can easily pass it. Look for the long narrow hallway with high ceilings, mirrored panels and a grid-like wooden structure—then you will find Ilili. Don’t let the narrow façade deceive you: the space is actually over 20,000 ft² and divided into a series of private rooms to suit any occasion.
   The alcohol bottles of the main bar are housed in a long floating wooden box. Furniture is simple, minimalist and dark—the colours are deep and rich, conveying a sexy, powerful look to the scene. A row of lightbulbs hangs from the ceiling, sitting on top of patrons as they sip on some of the most contemporary cocktails of the city.
   The Fresh Meadow is a refreshing combination of gin, St Germain elderflower liquor and mint. The subtle taste of cucumber meshes with the concoction and puts you in a mode of relaxation and peace. From Beirut with Passion is a basil cilantro mint-infused vodka with sparkling passionfruit. Sipping on this drink will make you feel like you are on the Beirut shores chilling on the beach.
   The food is a diverse selection of Mediterranean cuisine. Start with the hummus with chickpea puree. The dish is mixed with Lebanese tahini, lemon, olive oil and your choice of lamb or shrimp. The fattoush is a Lebanese garden salad served with a sumac lemon vinaigrette.
   For the main course, order the sidon black cod. The delicious fish melts in your mouth and complements the siya dieh rice. Meat lovers need to order the lamb makloubeh—pulled lamb, eggplant with Lebanese brown rice. The dish comes with a refreshing cucumber yoghurt. Another option would be to order the kilna sawa which are platters meant for sharing. The mezza sghire comes with hummus, baba ghannouj, falafel, fattoush, mekanek and lahmajeen.—David C. Lee, Destination Luxury

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