Pre-Celine fare and delicious dispatches from Lebanon, Ireland and Greece

The space next TO Republic Bar & Grill was until recently a Brazilian steak house. Now, it’s a Mediterranean restaurant and hookah lounge called Laziza, (9460 S. Eastern Ave., 570-7500), serving high-end Lebanese cuisine. The restaurant belongs to Steve Ramey, who had the highly touted Almaza, and food here is consistently excellent. We started with a big plate of vegetarian mezze with appetizers like stuffed vine leaves, hummus and baba ghanouj, then progressed to shawarma and kebabs. I had to be persuaded to try kunefe, a warm sweet cheese pie, for dessert. I’ll be back just to eat it again.

Now that the St. Patty’s Day rush is over, you’ll probably sail calmer waters at Rí Rá (632-7771), the new Irish pub in the Shoppes at Mandalay Place. It’s designed to resemble a 19th-century pub, a long, narrow space with a bar from the actual 19th century, handsomely restored by craftsmen in Ireland. I had a Dogfish on draught, and then dipped into the menu. The house specialty is Irish bacon and cabbage, but I tried an Americanization of the dish, using an excellent house-brined corned beef. Irish breakfast is served all day, and addictively good soda bread comes with dishes.

Over at the Forum Shops at Caesars, Spago’s chef Eric Klein, who recently put his terrific Choucroute Garnie Royale (a mixed sausage plate) on the menu for $35, is offering a new pre-theater menu in honor of Celine Dion, on show nights only, $60, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Choices range from starters such as lump crab salad “Louie” with quail eggs and lemon vinaigrette to entrées like a grilled Prime skirt steak. Dessert is chocolate-filled crepes with market-fresh berries. Reservations are essential: 369-0360.

Finally, I haven’t had the pleasure as yet, but I’m excited that our best Greek restaurant, Estiatorio Milos (in the Cosmopolitan, 698-7000), has opened for lunch, serving a three-course menu for an eye-popping $20, noon-2:30 p.m. every weekday. This strikes me as an amazing deal. First courses can be a mezze plate stocked with Greek appetizers such as stuffed vine leaves, tomatoes, olives, tzatziki and taramosalata, a cod roe dip, or a grilled octopus salad (for $10 more). Mains include lavraki (Mediterranean sea bass), lamb chops, fries and vegetables, and several other choices. For dessert, there’s karidopita, a honey-drenched Greek walnut cake, or Greek yogurt with thyme and crushed nuts.

Hungry, yet?

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