Review: Cafe Mediterranean

Longtime readers of the blog know that I don’t often head to the suburbs. I’m a city girl, and though I don’t insist on staying close to home, I focus on the urban core. So when a friend asked me to meet her for lunch in Anderson, I actually jumped on the chance– broaden my horizons for once. We met at the new Anderson Town Center, and initially wanted to go to Latitudes, which is a martini bar and cafe (and home of some ladies’ nights for Cincy Chic), but they weren’t open until 2 PM. Second choice? Cafe Mediterranean, which is nearby.

Now, going with my friend to Cafe Mediterranean is a big deal. She’s Syrian, and lived in Syria for some formative years of her life. She knows middle eastern and Mediterranean food. She’d been there before and insisted it was good. I was sold.

The restaurant itself is dark wood– fairly elegant, considering the mediterranean restaurants I’m used to going to (which tend to be on college campuses). The waitstaff is in white shirts, ties, and long white aprons– it feels like fine dining. In the back, there is a party room with traditional low benches, pillows and (I hear) hookahs on request.

Cafe Mediterranean

We started off with drinks– Manhattans all around– as we perused the menu. We decided on bourek as an appetizer, which is cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and fried– a childhood favorite of my friend. She said they tasted just like they did in Syria, and calls them the middle east’s answer to cheese stick. I’d rather eat these over American mozzarella sticks anyday– the outside was crisp, and the inside salty and cheesy and delicious.

Cafe Mediterranean

After seeing someone at the bar order a Greek salad with some great looking grilled chicken, and my friend insisting we had to have lamb, we decided to split two entrees: the Greek salad and the lamb shish kebab. We wanted to try their bulghur wheat, but they were out of it, so we chose the rice pilaf as a side.

The Greek salad was a meal in itself– we couldn’t eat it all. Not only was there chicken, but there were pepperocini, fava beans, big chunks of briny feta, olives, tomatoes, a really nice red wine vinaigrette and it was topped with a dolma (stuffed grape leaf). The dolma made me wish I had gotten those as an entree– they were chilled, stuffed with meat and rice, a little sweet, and almost decadent-tasting. I’ve never had a dolma quite like it. The chicken was well seasoned and juicy, and the whole salad a great meal. And the kicker? Only $8.

The lamb shish kebab was also nicely seasoned and juicy, if a bit more done than I’d like (I tend to like most red meat rare), but not overdone. The rice pilaf was also nice, just a little buttery and garlicky. It was accompanied by grilled tomatoes and peppers.

The house brought us out some chai, which we drank with a dessert of custard. It was a cinnamony, cardamom-y version of the egg custard my boyfriend makes (which is a real favorite of mine), so this was almost a comfort food to me. It is essentially a baked pudding, rich in vanilla and egg. We didn’t finish it– trying to be good, you know– and talked for a really long time without the slightest hint of being rushed.

Cafe Mediterranean

The owner, who also served us, said that they’d be doing a happy hour with martini specials starting in February– so stop in with some girlfriends (or a date!) and grab some appetizers and martinis. You won’t find better Mediterranean in town (and they make a mean Manhattan!).
Cafe Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

9 thoughts on “Review: Cafe Mediterranean”

  • Cafe Mediterranean has quickly become a favorite of my family. You’re right, it feels like fine dining. However, when we took our two small children the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating and friendly.

    They also have a take out menu.

  • so glad you came out to the ‘burbs to find this little treasure! my hubby and i discovered this gem of a restaurant one night when latitudes was packed full. we were pleasantly surprised and have been back several times for an encore. our personal favorite is the baklava, it’s the best i’ve ever had! we can no longer share one order, i must have my own! also, i wish i could remember the name of it, but they serve an excellent turkish white wine that goes well with everything i’ve eaten there. highly recommended!

  • in Anderson we are pitifully grateful that we are Finally getting some decent places to eat–and Mediterranean is one of the two I like best. The great review will help their business and I want them to be successful–Thanks!

  • My wife & I went with a friend over the summer and just hated this place. The food was fair at best, and ridiculously overpriced (you’re paying for those suburbs, baby!), the server was a total idiot, yadda yadda yadda.

    It was such a bad experience, we could only think to compare it our “Standard of Terrible”, P.F. Changs.

    (In fact, we recently went over to Caribou Coffee and pointed at Cafe Mediterranean and mocking asked each other if we wanted “signature sauce”.) *bwahahaha*

    All-in-all, it made us wish we’d driven a little further to Mediterranean Foods on Ludlow, which has zero ambiance but awesome food for far less money.

    We will *never* go to Cafe Mediterranean ever again. Food over decor, always!

  • That Greek salad looks amazing! I’m such a Greek salad connoisseur. The chicken and feta look great. I’m definitely going there! Thanks for the tip.

  • Yes, it was that bad. Undine & I are fortunate enough to have enough money to eat at nice places (which often aren’t that much more expensive than regular dining spots if you watch what & how you order), but we are damn quick to take a place out of our dinner rotation if we feel the food merits it.

    We have revisited spots (or reinstated spots to our rotation), but not Cafe Mediterranean. We were especially embarrassed because we went with a guest (who was underwhelmed as well.)

    Afterwards, over coffee at Caribou (we weren’t staying for dessert/coffee at Cafe M on a bet), we pondered exactly how long they would last. Would they stay the length of their lease? Or would they give up the ghost prior to that?

    All-in-all, Cafe Mediterranean won’t ever be getting any more of our hard-earned money or valuable free time! (I am glad that your mileage did vary, so to speak.) 🙂

  • Sorry about your own situation. Consistently, I have gotten great food and service there and the prices are very reasonable. All my friends I bring there love it too! For authentic, freshly cooked Mediterranean food I would highly recommend it to anyone.

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