Hidden gem serving up Lebanese dishes star of final ‘Flavors’ event

CedarLand Bakery & Restaurant in Riverside has been serving up Lebanese dishes since 2005. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED
CedarLand Bakery & Restaurant in Riverside has been serving up Lebanese dishes since 2005. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

The third and last installment of Welcome Dayton’s “Flavors of Dayton” food events takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

It is both a fundraiser to help support services for the region’s local immigrant and refugee community members, ensuring that Dayton remains a welcoming region with funds raised going to help with programs including immigration legal assistance.

The focus of each event is to highlight the talents, cuisines, and stories of foreign-born chefs. A different immigrant or refugee chef conducts a cooking demonstration that showcases food from their native country. Attendees have an opportunity to learn how to cook cuisine from a different country and enjoy food prepared by that featured chef.

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The three restaurants chosen are wonderful examples of the kind of diverse ethnic dining our region offers.

On Oct. 15, Rafael Santillan from Nelly’s in Centerville presented a taste of Bolivia and on Oct. 22 Teresa Barnes from Eden Spice Restaurant in West Carrollton presented African and Caribbean cuisines.

The last event on Oct. 29 features a favorite of mine — George Daoud from CedarLand Bakery & Restaurant in Riverside. I love Middle Eastern cuisine, and this modest restaurant in a strip on Linden Avenue focuses on Lebanese dishes, serving them up since 2005.

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The restaurant’s origins are a true story of immigrants — Claire Daoud, George’s mother, fled Lebanon in 1978 to escape the war there. She found herself in Dayton and eventually opened CedarLand with George to focus on the authentic flavors and dishes that she carried with her from the homeland.

The dishes on the menu are dressed up with flavorful ingredients like zesty lemon, healthy olive oil, bright parsley, loads of garlic and herbs and spices like nutmeg, cumin and thyme. They are recipes passed down through the ages with flavors that converge harmoniously.

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If you can’t make it to this event, CedarLand is worth a visit when you find time.

Overall most of the menu items are healthy, the prices are affordable and the food is packed with flavor.

Most sandwiches are $5.99 and include a Shawarma sandwich (sliced beef or chicken, spices, sesame sauce, lettuce, tomato and parsley wrapped with pita bread), shish kebab sandwich (beef or chicken, spices, sesame sauce, lettuce, tomato and parsley wrapped with pita bread), Kafta sandwich (ground beef, parsley, onion and spices), Kebbe sandwich (baked ground beef stuffed with fried ground beef, onions and spices) and a Falafel sandwich made with a wonderful fried chickpea mixture. On some visits, there has been a little less protein than on others. The grilled sandwiches are definitely better when a more generous portion of meat is present.

Meat pies range in price from $1 to $3.99 depending on size.

The best way to get a sense of all of the flavors CedarLand has to offer is with one of the samplers. For $11.99, a meat sampler (rice and ground beef, a small meat and cheese pie, hummus, tabouli, grape leaves and pita bread) or a vegetarian sampler (falafel, veggie grape leaves, hummus, tabouli, baba ghannouj and pita bread) can be ordered up. It will not only leave you full, but give you a taste of what CedarLand’s food is all about.

Each Saturday CedarLand has a buffet for $13.99 a person featuring salads, soups, rice dishes, proteins and desserts to enjoy. The buffet is from 1-8 p.m.

Finish strong with a pistachio, walnut or date baklava ($1) accompanied by a Lebanese coffee ($1.50).

Monica Harris, Coordinator of the City of Dayton’s Welcome Dayton Initiative, put it best when she recently said, “with hundreds of immigrant-owned restaurants in the Dayton region from every part of the globe, there is an incredible wealth of cultural experiences out there waiting to be discovered.”

If you haven’t discovered CedarLand yet, now is the time.

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What: Flavors of Dayton featuring CedarLand Bakery & Restaurant's George Daoud

Where: Dayton Metro Library Opportunity Space, 215 E. Third St., Dayton

When: 5-7:30 p.m. Oct. 29

Cost: $65 per person plus ticketing fees

More information: To purchase tickets, visit https://flavorsofdayton.eventbrite.com. To learn more about CedarLand, visit www.cedarlanddayton.com