Raleigh >Restaurants > Sitti - Authentic Lebanese
137 S. Wilmington Street, Raleigh, NC | Directions 2760135.778402 -78.638049
Monday - Thursday : 11am - 10pm, Friday - Saturday : 11am - Midnight
In rating a restaurant ask two questions: 1) Did you have anything you would like to eat again? and 2) Would you go back? For our meal at Sitti the answer is a resounding NO!
Ambiance? Much of our time was spent keeping the flies from our food.( Is this what makes it "authentic Lebanese"?)
The food was inedible: The cheese appetizer - four rolls stuffed with gruyere cheese - was nauseating, the mixed grill was overcooked, the pistachio layer cake was stale, and the Kibbee Bi Sayneh (baked ground beef and lamb) had the consistency and taste of cardboard. The service was slow which unmercifully overextended our stay.
This was easily the WORST dining experience we can remember
Give Consideration to Time and Comfort – Sitti is indeed a trendy downtown Raleigh hot spot., and it is pleasingly noisy and well appointed. We had mixed reviews on the food, and all agreed that the service timing and building temperature control leave a lot to be desired.
We were seated promptly at our reservation time, but that was the only pleasant timing of the evening. The appetizers were excellent. One of our meals was served completely cold, which was not a surprise since we waited 40 minutes after we finished our appetizers. The other meals were hot, but the meat was dry.
The temperature was kept at a very uncomfortable high, and while waiting 30 minutes for our check, it was almost unbearable.
Because one meal was returned cold, they brought out a salad for the wait. By then, hunger had passed, and the meal had to be wrapped up and taken home. They did attempt to compensate by not charging for the cold meal and sending our a complimentary dessert, (an additional 10 minutes in the heat).
When we finally got out check, we waited another 10 minutes. After we flagged the waiter, we again waited for an unreasonable amount of time.
Beyond the appetizers, Sitti falls short on traditional Lebanese and is definitely not a place to celebrate a milestone birthday.
Great food – I've been to Sitti many times. Each time I've had a great meal. Highly recommend it.
Beware: Bald Dude with Attitude! – My partnerr and I went downtown with 2 of my clients to show them a good time in Raleigh. We went to Cafe Luna and had a great dinner experience. We then decided to continue the night with a few drinks at Sitti. I've been here several times and have always had great service. I've even had a private party in the downstairs... with no problems. However, tonight was less than expected. We walked in and were greeted by the best hostess in the triangle (I wish she was our server!) There was limited seating so we decided to sit in the lounge area. The night turned sour when the server aproached our table and the first thing out of his mouth was "What do you want?"(he came off very rude)... in a playfull manner my client motioned for him to smile. She is a very bubbly person and was trying to lighten the mood . At this point we took it light hearted and thought he was joking. When we took too long (in his opinion) to order he simply said with a huff "I'll Come Back" The night seem to get worse from this point when he then turned to the couple next to us and with a smile greeted them warmly. Thats when we know that this was no joke. When he returned for our second round of drinks the attitude had become worse! He rushed us through our orders and completely ignored one of my guests. When we realized that we were receiving service from what seemed like "Dick's Last Resort" (where the service is so bad that it's supposed to be funny) we confronted him, had his responce: "You ordered me to smile, and no one orders me around" He then said "I'll get someone else to wait on you" I couldn't believe it!! Was this really happening? or were we on some reality hidden camera show? I'm not one to camplain, but in no way felt that we were out of line and deserved this kind of treatment (escecially since we racked up a $150 bar tab). We spoke to the manager who was extreemly apologetic. He sent Anna over who is one of the best! Between her and the manager on duty(Ken?) completly turned the night around. I'm not here to turn business away, I've always had great service. I'm just saying "beware of the bald guy in the bar!
Mixed results – This could be a fantastic experience but lacks a focus on the diner or any discernible responsible party. We've been to Sitti twice, last spring and just recently. Both times I felt unwelcome. The mistress D, a beautiful young thing in High Grunge, definitely looked my clothes up and down. This last time we might have been a bit underdressed but it was not a peak time and business was quite slow so why not hide us in a booth and treat us kindly? We felt rushed to eat and leave despite many available tables in the huge room, whereas the drinkers (a majority there) sat for much longer and weren't pressured to drink up and go. The prices aren't casual, they are high. As far as the "eat together communally" or "order lots of small dishes and share," there was no together feeling at all, and we were presented with a mix of small dishes (mezze), but no serving spoons, and no plates to serve the shared food onto. The food is mixed in quality and freshness. The rice and noodles which should be a fresh basis for everything else, is chilly, too oily and salty. It just reminds me of Rice A Roni. Our vegetarian entree was undercooked and not evenly cooked, as if items from various pots had been thrown together. I suspect the vegies were nuked. I doubt traditional Lebanese stews include crunchy squash. The Lebanese yogurt and pita bread really are awesome. The beef kabob was appealing but unevenly cooked, very tender as if tenderized, and highly meat tasting which I suspect includes MSG as I got a roaring migraine the next morning. Great beer. Refried falafel. Terrible baba ganoush, not roasted but burnt and turned into ganoush anyway (as if eggplant is that expensive or was this one more sign we didn't decorate their walls well enough? Tons of pretty workers milling around doing nothing but watching our progress and hanging out behind the bar, yet we often couldn't find our server. She forgot a request for several minutes, and didn't know the difference between beef and lamb. None of the cooks appear to be either Lebanese or very interested in their work. In fact, they don't seem to be actually cooking anything. Having a wait staff picked for youth, slimness and looks in skinny jeans does not make for a pleasant experience for the middle aged folks who do have the money to spend on good food. Hope they get back (?) to their roots and clearly indicate whether they want to serve Lebanese cuisine, or just sell expensive wine in a tony atmosphere. Fire some wait staff and hire some Lebanese or really trained cooks and really do cook from scratch as you claim. This place seems like part of a huge movement of "restaurants that are really bars where you can soak up the expensive alcohol with trendy food that is mostly precooked. At first the music was annoying modern stuff probably chosen for the staff's benefit, but later they changed it to traditional music which was nice without being smarmy ethnic. Gorgeous decor and really nice bathrooms.
Nice tapas spot – I recently visited Sitti for the first time in November 2009 with a bunch of friends, and then in December 2009 with my young son. Both were excellent experiences.
The first visit was exciting, with my friends guiding and explaining the menu after an evening out drinking. I enjoy many types of food, especially Middle Eastern fare, so it was an adventure. We ordered many, many small plates to go around the table.
The second visit was just a drop-in after visiting the Christmas tree lighting and the Governor's Mansion. All the normal tables were full upstairs, so we were the first to be sat at the large communal table that evening. We ordered the sampler platter, some of the "halloumi" cheese, and eventually the banana and dough dessert. Everything was delivered quickly and was just as good as my previous visit. Everything was very savory, with variety in the textures.
As the dinner progressed, other couples and parties were sat around us at the large table. For anyone unaccustomed to communal tables, it was plenty large enough to not feel like you were being forced to sit with strangers, but you could still make eye contact and engage others comfortably.
My 5 y.o. son said the food was excellent and some of the best dessert he has ever had. However, I must say this is not a kid-friendly place, and that's ok. The plates are small enough that you should be able to feed a reasonably hungry kid. There are no chicken fingers or pizzas or coloring books. While I did not need them, I could not spot any high-chairs or booster seats.
My only observation would be that the entry door is the old department store design, large and glass. For the winter months Sitti would do well to establish some sort of foyer to buffer the chill air as people come and go. I would probably not have been so happy in my review had I been sat next to the door during these months.
If you go, fear not the downtown parking, for there are many free public parking decks in downtown Raleigh and everything is very walkable.
Consistently Fine Mid-Eastern Food – I and my family have visited Sitti 4 times over the past 3 months (since their opening) and every time it has been a pleasure. Most times we have had a DIY "meza", which is round after round of shared small dishes (apps) with drinks. This is very traditional and is also a way to try nearly everything on the menu; you can be adventurous without committing yourself ;-). The tiny lamb sausages are wonderful, the tabbouleh is fresh and bright-tasting (the traditional style with far more parsley than cracked wheat, be aware), the lamb kebabs are lean and done perfectly (very slightly pink. and juicy). My wife loves vegetarian dishes and the "loubeh bi zeit" (green beans in a light tomato/oil sauce) is woncerful she says. Baskets of freshly-baked bread (you can see them bake it in the semi-open kitchen as you dine) makes everything better and catches every bit of sauce/juice/dip. So far we have not had a bad dish. The service is fine - friendly and professional with only an occasional wait of 2-3 minutes before the next time they stop by or walk by close enough to catch their eye. I am not sure what happened with some of the other reviews here - I am not normally blessed with exceptional luck (I lose my bags traveling as much as the next guy) so I think mine may be the more typical experience.
Great food and ok service – We sat upstairs which has great atmosphere. It is a little louder than I usually like due to the open concept all the way through to the bar.
The food was really good though. The kabobs had great flavor and the hummus with meat was absolutely fantastic.
Not worth the money – We went to Sitti on a Saturday night. We were seated right away, despite being busy. The unfortunate part was we were seated in the basement, which does not have a nice atmosphere like the upstairs. It was dark & not well decorated - almost like it was an after thought.
I had the scallop dish & my husband had the sea bass. The scallops were very good, although you only get 4 mediocre sized scallops that contained quit a bit of grit. Also the side dish was plain white rice - not something you would expect at a slightly upscale restaurant or with a more expensive entree. The sea bass was one of the most expensive items of the entrees. It tasted frozen, not fresh, and had a very strong fishy flavor. Definitely not what you would expect for $24. A lot of the entree items seemed like ordinary run of the mill entrees you would expect at any slightly upscale restaurant, not authentic Lebanese.
Nice place, but felt very rush – The atmosphere upstairs is very nice. Downstairs looks and feel like what it is - a cold unfinished basement. Not knowing any better when they told us a table was available downstairs we said that would be fine, but next time will wait for a table upstairs. It was very cold down there and the waiter said he would do something about it but didn't. It was hot outside and I was glad I brought a sweater. The food was very good but we felt like they wanted us out of there fast. I don't know how the waiter even had time to get to the kitchen and back after taking our order when our appetizer arrived. It was also disappointing that the bread that was supposed to go with the kibbe came when we were half finished. Our main course also showed up before we had finished our appetizer. We would've enjoyed a LITTLE more leisurely dinner.
Sign in with Facebook Sign in with Facebook to see what your friends are up to!
Do you have a review of Sitti - Authentic Lebanese on your blog? If you include the Citysearch image link (shown below) in your post, we'll automatically link to your review from the business profile page. Here's how our Linkback system works:
The Linkback system is free and automatic. It's really that easy.
To link to our business profile page, copy the html below to your web page.