Review: Cafe Mediterranean

Hyde Park is, in my humble opinion, the best neighborhood in the city. The homes have so much character, it’s easy to walk to shopping, restaurants, and parks, and it’s only a hop skip and a jump away from downtown –  so you aren’t too far away from the action. I grew up here. It’s home. Ryan fell in love with Hyde Park too, and that’s why we’ve chosen to put down roots here.

The best part about living in Hyde Park? The food. Not only are you less than 10 minutes away from all the great restaurants downtown Cincinnati has to offer, but there are tons of great options right around the corner. In a 5 minute walk, we could be eating a lobster roll, or sipping on an insane cappuccino, or experiencing true burger madness. In my neighborhood, there are lots of old staples – restaurants that have been around for years that I just couldn’t live without – and lots of new places to try opening all the time. It’s foodie heaven and I love it.

One of the newest restaurants, which opened literally right around the corner from our house, is a little place called Cafe Mediterranean. Although Cincinnati has a very diverse food scene, we don’t have a lot of options boasting the rich flavors of Turkish cuisine. Thank goodness that this place is filling that void. My mum first came here a couple of weeks ago, and hasn’t stopped raving about it, so we finally went together last night. Now I’m in the same boat.

This place is good. It is located on Erie Avenue, in the old Cumin space (right next to the also new Forno Osteria+Bar, Cristian Pietoso’s latest venture). It has always been a gorgeous space. There’s a big bar that is separate from the rest of the restaurant, and nice outdoor seating. The staff and owner could not have been more welcoming! My mum and I were seated in the main dining room, and each ordered a glass of Château Virgile Rosé to start (because summer isn’t over yet!) Our server, Matt, walked through the menu with us and gave us his recommendations. He was very knowledgeable, and even let us know which dishes were the healthiest picks (thanks, Matt!) The owner, Fahri, promised us that we couldn’t go wrong with his menu. He was right.

We split the Chef Borek appetizer to start, which may not have been the healthiest option, but it was completely delicious. The dish had delicate layers of pastry filled with goat cheese, leeks, and the sweetest cherry tomato marmalade. Heaven.

They brought us some complimentary pita bread and hummus, and then our entrees. My mum and I both went with healthier options that came highly recommended by Matt. My mum chose the Türlü, which she said she had been dreaming about ever since the last time she dined at the restaurant. It came out in a little tajine, filled with veggies: eggplant, potatoes, green beans, peppers, onions and tomatoes, all in a beautifully-spiced tomato sauce. It came with a side of perfectly-cooked rice.

My meal, the Lamb Sauté, had many of the same elements of my mum’s meal, only with lamb included. I can’t even describe how much flavor this dish had. The sauce was so good, I used pita to soak it up at the end of the meal. Although the menu labeled this dish as spicy, it wasn’t about heat – it was all about flavor. Whatever combination of spices they use, I am obsessed. I can’t recommend this dish enough, and I completely understand why my mum has been raving about this place so much!

We decided to split dessert, and while we were waiting for it to cook, Matt brought us some complimentary chai tea. My mum and I are both tea-obsessed, and this brew did not disappoint.

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Our dessert, the künefe, was presented beautifully. It is a traditional Turkish dessert: cheese-filled shredded phyllo dough, soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup, and topped with pistachios. You don’t need chocolate and peanut butter to make a good dessert, America! For the less adventurous out there, believe me, it is SO good.
 

Cafe Mediterranean is a fantastic and welcome addition to our neighborhood. You can tell that a lot of care and passion goes into the food here. I am so glad to be able to add it to my list of restaurant staples, and can’t wait to share more delicious meals with friends and family there in the years to come!

Check it out, Cincy foodies, and let me know what you think!

Until next time,

LL