Norma's menu offers dishes for the adventurous eater, such as skewered lamb with honey and almonds ($19), as well as an extensive vegan menu for the discerning vegetarian. The tofu shawarma combination, for example, features sliced tofu sautéed with green peppers, onions and tahini sauce, served with hummus and tabbouleh ($12.95).
On the weekday afternoon we visited, the dining room was busy including a few regular diners who knew the staff.
All the menu items were tempting, but we chose to start with fattoush, a Lebanese bread salad with pita crisps, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, parsley, onions, lemon juice, olive oil and spices ($5.95). The plentiful salad was freshly made, and the lightly seasoned vegetables and pita bits offered a nice crunch.
We drank iced mint tea, which was light and unsweetened. Norma's also serves hot mint tea, Lebanese coffee, guava juice, and mango juice with yogurt.
For my main course, I opted for the shawarma combination, sliced beef layered and rotisserie roasted, topped with a tomato and caramelized onions sauce and served with hummus and tabbouleh salad ($12.95). The beef was tender and moist with slight heat in flavor. The entrée was complemented by mild side dishes. The hummus was flavorful, not overwhelmed by garlic. The parsley in the tabbouleh salad was potent - in a good way.
The deputy diner ordered the kafka combination ($12.95), charbroiled kabobs of ground lamb seasoned with parsley, onions and spices served with hummus, tabbouleh salad and tahini sauce. The dep termed the lamb flavorful without being gamey, and the side dishes were delicious.
Our only disappointment was the pita bread, which was cold and dry.
After much deliberating over dessert, we decided to split the homemade walnut baklava ($2.50). The dessert was layered with buttery, flaky phyllo and crushed walnuts and drizzled with rose-water syrup.
Our server was attentive and knowledgeable about each dish. The menu also offered detailed descriptions of the traditional Middle Eastern foods for the uninitiated diner.
Norma's portions were plentiful, so both of us returned to our offices with boxes of leftovers, which didn't make it to dinner. Norma's was a great escape for lunch.
Discreet Diner: Norma's Mediterranean Restaurant
145 Barclay Farms Shopping Center, Route 70 East, Cherry Hill.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Parking lot: Yes.
Reservations: For six or more.
Handicapped accessible: Yes.
Children's menu: Yes.
The Discreet Diner welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.