Remember way back in March when City Kitchen opened and we said we were going to talk about all the places in the food halls? Yeah, me too. So much to catch up on, but better late than never...
A and I each went to a different vendor at City Kitchen to pick up dinner, and then we shared our dishes. The one I chose was Ilili Box, an offshoot of the Lebanese Ilili restaurant in the city. We had never been to the original spot, but we had tried and really liked a sample of their food at a tasting event we went to years ago. We've always thought about going, but hadn't made it there yet, so I thought it might be nice to try out Ilili Box in the meantime. The line wasn't that long, but the service seemed a little bit disorganized. I can give that a pass though since we went when they were still in their first week of service.
The first thing we tried was the Phoenician fries ($2.98, price as of March). According to the menu, these were "skin-on fried potato fries seasoned with salt and sumac served with an Aleppo pepper fresh garlic emulsion." The price and portion size seemed about average as far as food halls go these days. The seasoned fries were tasty, and the dipping sauce was really garlicky in a good way. We really liked these, but that was mostly due to the sumac salt (I love sumac) and the dipping sauce. The fries were just fries, but overall it was a good side dish.
I also chose the pressed chicken sandwich ($7.35 when we got it in March), which contained roasted sumac chicken, garlic whip, and Lebanese pickles in a pita. If you were thinking it was going to be the size of a burrito, or a wrap sandwich from some deli, you'd be wrong. In size and style, it reminded me a little bit of the Turkish tacos from the Pera truck that I tried a few years back, although these were longer in length (as I would hope they would be, as they were also more expensive).
The flavors inside the sandwich were good, and we really liked the combination. The only problem was that the portion size was extremely small for the price. For over $7, we were expecting something more filling in terms of size. Combined with the fries, that was over $10 before tax, but not really a tremendous amount of food. I just checked and it looks like the price of this is now $8.04 according to the City Kitchen site, so I hope they're putting a little more in the sandwich for that price.
Our overall assessment was that the food at Ilili Box was pretty good as far as taste, but it was a bit pricey for what you got in terms of amount (a common theme at food halls). We might try them again sometime (although obviously we haven't made it back in the past 7 months), but it probably won't be part of our regular rotation.