Fillo Combination, Salad Mediterranee, Chicken Pomegranate
Occupation: Handyman and Wedding Officiator
Favorite Restaurant: La Mediterranee
Reviewed La Mediterranee: Thursday, December 6, 2008
There is great pay parking down College Ave diagonal from the 7-11. On a busy day it might be full, but I can always park nearby. Even if I end up a few blocks away the walk is part of the charm. With shops for toys, pets, books, toys, candy, fashion, and gifts, the whole area lends a full neighborhood experience to enjoy with a friend or two.
There is a charming hostess to greet us. We get a choice of indoor or outdoor seating, I choose indoor, but the chilly weather is warmed by heaters for the diners outside. I have gotten the same thing here for years: the three fillo combo. It is three little, flaky, savory fillo cakes with a side of lemon chicken soup. I choose the Chicken Cilia (cinnamon chicken with garbonzo beans), Spinach and Feta, and the Cheese Karni (an enchanting blend of cheeses that I still cannot pinpoint). The modest garnish on the side makes for my flavor mixing celebration. I get a slice of orange, pineapple, banana, and Muenster cheese next to a small mound of hummus. I love slicing of a bit of the fruit to eat with a bite of fillo. The combinations highlight and activate different elements of each cake. With the dinner combo, there are four fillo offered, so I get the tasty ground beef and pine nut cake, further increasing the possibilities of tasty exploration.
My mood and joy for the delicious food is complemented by pairing the meal with a glass or three of retsina, a white wine aged in pine barrels. It is not for everyone and the aroma is rather strong, but I find it refreshing and yummy. Going with friends is fun, because we can share an order of the pomegranate chicken. Plump, delectable drumsticks of slow cooked chicken in a slightly tangy sauce where the meat literally falls off the bone.
The mood is light but energetic. Usually rhythmic instrumental music is playing that makes me wonder why nobody is dancing (I sometimes do on my way to the restroom). The decor is distinct but simple; a mood is set without being overpowering or too gaudy.
Go here for a work meeting, with out of town visitors, for a sexy date, or just to treat yourself to lunch and enjoy your current novel or comic book. This is the perfect joint to hit up during the holiday shopping season. You can cross off at least a handful of gifts while nourishing that gnawing, hustle-harried belly.
Occupation: Retired Journalist
Location: Redwood City
Favorite Restaurant: Joe's of Westlake
Reviewed La Mediterranee: Monday, December 2, 2008
Authentic Mediterranean restaurant, featuring traditional Mid-Eastern atmosphere and serving realistic Lebanese cuisine. More than adequate portions. Professional staff greets patrons with a smile. We arrived at 1pm for lunch and were seated immediately. The courses were leisurely paced. For dessert we were served delicious seedless sweetened dates covered with rich, thick cream. A fine dessert. We enjoyed the total midday dining experience. The prices are right and the food is filling.
Occupation: Montessori Pre-School Teacher
Location: Redwood City
Favorite Restaurant: Roy's Restaurant
Reviewed La Mediterranee: Sunday, November 23, 2008
We thought parking was going to be difficult at the restaurant considering it’s in a fairly busy area of Berkeley. It turns out there is a small parking lot in the back of the restaurant, and you don’t have to pay on Sundays. A plus!
There is covered, outside seating in front of the restaurant. It was a nice day and we considered sitting out there so we could people watch, but decided to eat inside because there was much more to take in visually. The ceiling of the restaurant was covered in cloth panels that softened the look of the industrial ceiling. There was a skylight -- always a plus! The lighting was bright and the place felt airy. Considering it was a Sunday at 2:30pm, the place was pretty full, but the acoustics were great, as we never thought it was too loud. We didn’t have to wait too long to get our table either.
The place has a fun, eclectic feel. Each table had a little tray with a classic Coke ad displayed on the side, and they each also had a small vase filled with a different wild flower. It gave each table a unique look. There was a small bar in the back of the restaurant surrounded by fake grapes. Totally kitschy-cute. You could see all the way to the back of the kitchen, and it was reassuring to know that they’re willing to expose their cooking area so openly.
I was sorry that one of my guy friends was not able to come with us. I think he would have appreciated the quality of waitresses that were there. Each one was friendly and accommodating and had that certain Berkeley flair that added to the ambiance of the restaurant. And they were all cute.
I’m not a big fan of hummus, but my boyfriend will order it any chance he gets. It was wonderful! Definitely one of the best I’ve ever tasted -- comparable to all the homemade hummus I’ve had in the past. Plus they added vegetable slices like beets, carrots, and red lettuce that could be used to scoop up the hummus in lieu of pita bread. Another added bonus was the pita bread came warm and was a combination of regular and whole wheat.
For my main dish I ordered Grecian Spinach and Feta Fillo Dough Specialty with the lentil soup as my side dish. I’ve never seen anything like that in another other menu serving the same fare. Anton ordered the Levantine Meat Tart with chicken lemon soup (!) as his side dish. We were both impressed by the plating -- it turned out that for $10.25, we got a whole dish. Not only did it come with four fillo rolls, it came with the soup, a side of hummus, three slices of varied fruit (pineapple, orange, and banana) and a small triangle of Gouda cheese. We figured the fruit and cheese served as dessert.
Our waitress came by to notify Anton that she had given him the wrong plate. Instead of the Levantine Meat Tart, he had been given the fillo combination, which included my Grecian Spinach and Feta, Cheese Karni, Levantine Meat Tart and Chicken Cilicia. He was so happy with the mistake he kept the plate. We both agreed that the spinach and feta rolls deserved a “happy food dance,” which is our parlance for “awesome food.” I tried some of the Chicken Cilicia, which we thought was the most shocking thing on the plate because it was actually sweet and almost dessert like. But oh so tasty!
The lentil soup was good, but nothing too exciting. I thought it lacked depth. The chicken lemon soup was just so unusual we both had to try it. It was tasty and surprising. A very clever combination!
I enjoyed my beer. I had specifically requested an exotic beer, and the waitress recommended the Almaza beer from Lebanon. She said that it flew off their shelves, and they had to keep lots of extra stock to meet the demand. It was a light, not so hoppy beer, with a clear, bright yellow color. Considering the warmer weather, I thought it was a great complement to the meal.
We were so full from the meal that we had to forgo our dessert. I didn’t even manage to finish two of my rolls and packed them up in a to-go box with the rest of the hummus.
We had to ask the waitress for directions to another place on the Berkeley campus, and she was really helpful and even provided us with a map of the campus. Apparently, they do a lot of deliveries.
I went to the bathroom on the way out. It was nicely tiled and decorated. I was a little disappointed to note that there was paper on the floor, and it looked the trashcan needed to be emptied.
A definite go-to restaurant! There were other items on the menu I didn’t have a chance to try and would love to go back. I’d be curious to try out their other locations in San Francisco to see if they have the same casual, eclectic, laid back vibe that the one in Berkeley has.