After dining at Alie’s Lebanese Grill in Sterling Heights, the experience seems familiar and different at the same time.
Naturally, there’s Middle Eastern staples such as hummus, fattoush, and kabobs. Then there’s the name and logo, which may remind diners of Ollie’s Lebanese Cuisine, which has locations in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.
That’s because Alie’s used to be Ollie’s. But after Ali Makky and his brother-in-law, who both opened the restaurant six years ago, began to have competing visions of what the restaurant should be, the two parted ways. Makky reopened the restaurant as Alie’s and while he aimed to stay true to the restaurant’s roots, he says his goal is to make Alie’s “not your typical Lebanese restaurant,” from the wine list to presentation.
The plating of the dishes, from something as simple as hummus to a higher-end filet, is gorgeous with eye-popping visuals. One dish that’s ready for hashtagging is the vegetarian-friendly tomato kibbe, which is beautifully presented: an intricate pattern is etched across the top of the ruby red tomato spread and garnished with colorful fresh herbs and radishes.
The flavors are Lebanese through and through, and the service is as attentive and friendly as dining in someone’s home.
Four rounds of pillowy pita bread studded with sesame seeds arrive at the table hot, ready for scooping up the accompanying garlic sauce. Squash the temptation to ask for more because you’ll want to pace yourself for the meal ahead because the portions are hefty. Aside from the kibbe, we also went for the starter combo to get a little taste of everything. The baba ghannouj had the perfect level of creamy smokiness and the hummus was light without a hint of bitterness that can mar some versions of the popular chickpea spread.
Another notable feature of Alie’s menu is that it boasts a lot of high-end choices, making it a decent option for a special occasion. On the evening we went, we opted for more luxurious entrees such as the lamb chops and quail. While full of flavor and plated elegantly on a bed of almond rice, the lamb arrived well done. If you’re like us who like their steaks medium rare, make sure to specify your desired doneness.
My dining companion, web editor Lexi Trimpe, went for the quail, which boasted a smoky, charred flavor that she enjoyed. “Since quail is traditionally so dry, I was pretty impressed with how succulent the meat was.”
Like some of the other Lebanese restaurants in town run by a younger generation, Makky is looking to put his own spin. Indeed there are things you’ll see at Alie’s that you wouldn’t find at other Lebanese restaurants, such as a full bar stocked with wine and beer, including Michigan brews such as Dragonmead and Perrin on tap. There’s a decent booze selection including a Macallan 12, which caught whiskey aficionado Trimpe’s eye.
When making the transition, the change was more than just changing the O to an A: Makky says it was like starting from scratch.
But he’s having fun with it. For example, he’s adding to the menu a raw kibbe sushi roll, which used to be a special order for those in the know.
Now that’s something you won’t find at a typical Lebanese restaurant.