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No lamb?, I incredulously asked myself. Poring over the streamlined menu at the counter of Habibi Fine Lebanese Cuisine, I noticed beef and chicken were well-represented, but the staple meat defining Middle Eastern cooking was nowhere to be seen. Feeling somewhat nonplussed, I posed the question to owner Frank Ashriki, a seasoned restaurateur who traded the refined rues of Montreal for the boilerplate boulevards of MetroWest. A downward glance, a deliberate pause and an uncomfortable wriggle later, the response: 'We plan on having lamb on the menu soon.� Not that Habibi's culinary legitimacy rests solely on rotisseried ruminants, but a Lebanese restaurant without lamb is, well, like Certs without the Retsyn�. 

So for the time being we settled and, ultimately, really settled into Habibi's two-meat offerings, but not before getting our fill of their vegetarian platter ($8). A cluster of standards ' fresh-fried falafel, smoky babaganoush, hummus, tabouli and incomparably lemony grape leaves ' it's a flesh-spurner's delight. Just keep in mind that allowing falafel to cool zaps it of its moisture, so eat the tahini-drizzled orbs first. 

At the hub of the platter sat a sliver of eggplant coiled around fluffy toum, the garlicky white sauce often dolloped alongside chicken kebabs. Speaking of those, the flame-licked pieces of poultry were a highlight of the combo kebab ($13.99), with or without a toum dip. Biting into fattened morsels of beef and peppery kefta provoked the most vocal mm-mmm moments ' moments which, given our choice of outdoor seating, seemed to rouse the interests of passers-by. Granted, most of them were heading to Habibi's anyway, primarily for takeout. The two booths and counter seating inside the atmo-less space don't exactly lend themselves to prolonged stays, yet it's not unusual to find a contingent of Arab and African patrons outside talking food and football with Frank. Being swept into the conversation is probable, and that speaks to the undeniable conviviality of the joint. 

Caught up in all the World Cup chatter, I nearly missed the fact that the fattoush salad ($3.99) lacked its characteristic toasted pita. A fattoush salad without the pita is, well, like the World Cup without its vuvuzelas. A surprising omission, to say the least, but if there's one item Habibi can toot its own horn about, it's their fried kibbeh ($1.75) and beef shawarma ($4.50). The seasoned top sirloin of the latter is shaved from a spit and, along with supremely tart pickles, radishes and tomatoes stuffed in a pita, makes for a consummate lunchtime sandwich. Take-home test: After a 10-minute sweat in a 250-degree oven, the shawarma held up just fine the following night.

The 'Fine� in 'Habibi Fine Lebanese Cuisine� is somewhat misleading. Plastic utensils and paper napkins in no way resemble the fine dining scene of Cedar's Restaurant in Dr. Phillips, but what Habibi does, it does relatively well. Most dishes are made to order, so don't expect immediate delivery of comestibles, as is customary with many counter-service eateries. And credit Ashriki for fostering Habibi's hospitable and neighborly vibe. In a single visit, it was easy to discern that Montreal's loss was MetroWest's gain. 

Years after the landmark San Francisco diner shut its queer-friendly doors at the turn of millennium, Hamburger Mary's has re-emerged in cities across the country, finding new life through franchising, while continuing to market its fare to 'open-minded people.â?� And given Orlando's rep as a gay-friendly hamlet, setting up shop in the heart of Church Street seems like a perfect fit for this ol' burger queen. Sure, it's a campy retread of a '50s-style diner, and the swaths of bright turquoise, hot pinks and lime greens make you feel like you're dining inside an acid-drenched Beatles flick directed by Paul Lynde, but at no point can you say the place is dull. Not when a waiter shoots a bit of sass your way, or when their plasma screens air videos from Nu Shooz followed by Ladytron; it all serves to enhance the mood, as does the lively cocktail scene. (Hamburger Mary's is fully licensed.) Still, diners with toddlers and hetero carnivores will feel as welcome here as the nanciest of patrons ' while diversity is key to Mary's clientele, her menu is unquestionably all-American.

A variety of finger foods, comfort staples and (what else?) burgers dominate the offerings here ' nothing particularly fab, but all sufficiently satisfying. Mary-mac & cheese balls ($7.95) were more triangles than orbs, but addictive little buggers nonetheless. In keeping with the kitsch, the menu is replete with cutesy names ' this particular 'appeteazerâ?� came with a tangy 'Mary-naraâ?� sauce. Crispy caramel chicken salad ($5.95) will 'leaf you greenâ?� (my words, not theirs). The caramel drizzle on the fried chicken was sweet enough, but lathering the mixed greens in ranch dressing created a clash as resounding as Charles Nelson Reilly's wardrobe.

Ranch dressing reared its creamy head once again in the 'spicy Maryâ?� burger ($8.95), this time meshing well with the melted jack cheese, jalapeños and mojo sauce. The lower bun proved too weak to sustain the gloppy half-pound Angus beef patty; the top bun, flecked with sesame seeds, was fabulously poofy, however. The side of seasoned fries was better than average, and much better than the runny mashed potatoes. Mary's meaty meatloaf ($10.50) can be had as an entree or as a sandwich ($7.95), and if you're a meatloaf lover, you'll be pleased with the slabs of turkey-beef mix. I chose the latter, with a side of onion rings ($4.95) that came with a ramekin of that ubiquitous ranch dressing, this time spiked with chipotle that was just plain awful.

Desserts here are caloric juggernauts. If you're the type to test your ticker at meal's end, fried Twinkies ($5) will vitrify your ventricles; one bite was certainly enough for me. An enormously dense square of banana-nut bread pudding ($5) had plenty of hot nuts, but it was big enough to share among the group. Mary Tyler S'mores ($6.95), roasted tableside, will turn your world on with a gooey, sticky smile.

If, at any point during your meal, you feel the room resonate, chances are the source is a passing train, though a parade of bellowing drag queens isn't out of the question. (Should it be a choo-choo, $3 tequila shots will be tendered, a la PR's Taco Palace.) In keeping with the restaurant's flamboyance, the campy coup de grâce arrives in the form of a red patent-leather shoe containing the check, allowing diners, gay or straight, a chance to foot the bill in style.

With one of the best patios in town and a tradition of offering free shots every time the train goes by, the Lamb offers a killer combo of comfort and festivity. Tons of seating, heaters for when it’s cold, a gorgeous lake view and a full bar mean you may never go inside, but when you do, guess what: same level of comfort, same full bar, plus a ping-pong table. Nothing “baa”d about it. (Sorry.)
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