I love to eat exotique food. I wish I can be Anthony Bourdain or any of those lucky bastards circling the globe in that channel Discovery Travel and Living. I would love to see the sights and especially try out the food. But the nearest thing I can get to an adventure nowadays is eating at restaurants like the Cafe Mediterranean. For those who are not familiar with this cuisine,the Mediterranean encompasses countries like France, Spain, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Morocco. This explains which why their food is very eclectic.
And Cafe Mediterranean (Flavors of the Sun) makes sure that it lives up with its name. It has a varied choice of food from gyros, kebabs, pita bread to pizzas, pastas and soups and salads. The first time I went there I tried their big plate of beef gyros with rice. I was secretly glad that it included side dishes like the tabbouleh ( a combination of tomato, parsley and wheat) and the tsatziki (cucumber, yoghurt and mint dip) because now I wouldn't be reading it off cookbooks or watching it being made on cable TV.
I wasn't expecting much since I've eaten in some places where it was supposed to be exotique and had been disappointed, So, there, come what may. And I was glad that it wasn't one of those places. The beef gyros plate I got comprised of beef strips marinated in spices like cumin giving it a strong, earthy taste. Whew! Tasting the flavor wasn't a problem here and honestly I was glad. I liked that it was an in your face flavor because that's what I'm looking for. I don't expect mildness here. It almost made me feel like I was in Turkey or Morocco on a hot summer day with the camels and the sand on my feet. Even the side dishes complemented the strong flavor of the beef gyros. The cooling effect of the herbs worked really well with the beef.
The second time I went there, I tried their beef kebab. I expected it to be a small piece of grilled beef rolled like a skinless longganisa, something similar to the usual kebabs I used to eat in small shawarma joints. Apparently, I was wrong. This kebab was composed of cube pieces of grilled beef that was marinated in strong spices. The beef cubes were a mouthful so you really have to cut them it bite-sizes or you might choke. I complained about the big chunks of beef to my husband and he asked me what are knives for? I was obviously given one for that purpose he said. Despite my desire to choke him myself with his patronizing remark, I knew he was right and proceeded with this interesting meal.
As I sliced the meat, I noticed that the it wasn't overcooked nor was it raw. It was tender and the juices hadn't run out. They really know how to grill their meat, I noted. Plus, the flavor is still there. Though not as strong as the gyros, it still tasted as something you might actually order in the Mediterranean. The beef kebab was accompanied by a tabbouleh side dish which was refreshing and a rice pilaf (brown rice with spices). The rice was interesting not only because of the color but because it had some nuts and raisins sprinkled in for added texture. By the way, you can also choose to accompany the viand with pita bread or couscous.
I also sampled their lamb stew which my husband ordered and I liked the fact that it didn't have the usual lamb after taste you get in some lamb dishes. Here, you can hardly detect that it is indeed lamb. But in terms of the taste, hmm... you can say that it almost taste like our local caldereta.
But overall, I really liked the wide variety of choices Cafe Mediterranean offered. Its interiors has a Mediterranean vibe with their wooden chairs and grecian lamps. Their Greek piped-in music somehow heightens your dining experience, like transporting you to one of the cities in the Med. Definitely, good food and a unique ambiance describes this restaurant. And nowadays, when I feel like eating something adventurous and exotique in the city, Cafe Mediterranean will definitely be one of the places I'll trek to.