…at Mediterranean Kitchen.
Remember how in college you were turned on to something really, really bad for you, like deep-fried Oreos or midnight drunk fries (that’d be fries dipped in a vanilla shake at a drive through after closing time)? You would gorge yourself on this tasty treat until your face started to resemble it, much the same way dogs and their owners do after year ten? And then some other hot new craze (Four Loko anyone?) would come along and replace the old addiction. We should bring that back, and start with garlic. If you’re on board, as you should be, then stop off for a healthy hit at Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue (103 Bellevue Way N.E.).
Not only are you greeted with the powerhouse duo of garlic vinaigrette and hot, luscious pitas, you’ll also go about the rest of your day sharing this delightful meal with everyone you see. How’s that possible? Well, for starters, you’ll begin sweating garlic fumes about six hours later, because every dish worth ordering has garlic in it. Second, you’ll always leave with leftovers that leave a scent trail in their path. Their dinner menu is great, and you should go sometime for dinner (they have another location in Kirkland), but to maximize your lunch money (you still get allowance from your mom, right?) go during midday. Everyone gets a bowl of homemade soup that the chef makes every day from scratch. You can slurp down the mystery contents (seriously, they won’t share recipes, but assure you it’s completely vegetarian) while pondering the menu choices.
You’d be crazy not to get the fried to perfection Zahrah ($7.95) as an appetizer – cauliflower deep-fried, topped with tahini sauce and garnished with green onions, radish, and fresh crushed mint. This dish rides that perfect line between hot and cold (the sauce is just chilled enough against the freshly fried veggie), and if you want to try it without spending all that money, it comes as a part of the very ample Mezza Tray ($15.95). The Middle Eastern Smörgåsbord of appetizers includes the Zahrah alongside Hummus, Baba Kanouj, Labnie, Tabouley, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers. Feel like you need to learn a new language to understand that sentence? Don’t worry, most of those words mean “tasty” or “garlicky.”
If a full plate meal, with hearty portions of rice and meat is more your speed, you’ll be just fine, relax. Try the well seasoned and freshly charbroiled chicken breast tenderloin marinated in garlic, lemon juice, herbs and spices. They call it Shish Tawook ($10.95) and it comes with a buddy – a massive dollop of hummus that you’ll want to stick your face in. For the vegetarians in the room that still want to get full and maybe drift into a garlic breath blackout later, there are two ways to go: Falafel or Fool Moudamas. The Falafel ($10.95), while sometimes overcooked and dry, are usually on point, served deep-fried and served on a bed of lettuce with green onions, radish, cucumbers and tomatoes and topped with tahini sauce. But if you like bread, and you probably do (don’t lie to yourself), then go for the Fool Moudamas ($10.95). The mixture of cooked fava & garbanzo beans tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, cilantro, tomatoes and spices is served with hot, crispy deep fried pita.
The disclaimer that should be on the front of menus would include the following notes: Don’t come here within a week of a date, unless your date comes with you…usually that cancels it out right? Also, if you’re not into spicy or zesty, this place is not for you. Even the salad has tangy pickled jicama and sauce on it. Lastly, while on the spendy side, you are guaranteed leftovers for at least one serving, probably two, which keeps this place firmly slotted on our newly resurrected “Post-College food addiction” list.