Meze the Mediterranean Bistro
935 6th St S
Kirkland WA 98033
Kirkland's Other Great Greek Restaurant
By: Steve G
Many restaurants today throw around the term "bistro" loosely. The word is defined as a small restaurant serving moderately priced food in a modest setting. Lately though, "bistro" is now associated with plush seating and post-modern design with a menu that has astronomical prices and meager portions. Every time I hear that word, my wallet gets thinner and my stomach grumbles unfulfilled. Thankfully, Meze the Mediterranean Bistro goes against the grain by living up to the true definition of bistro.
With a few dozen tables and a few pieces of art hanging from the walls, Meze comes across as very homey and inviting. There's no jet black tables, minimalist Napa leather chairs, or robotic servers that could be guest stars for the popular SNL 80s skit, "Sprockets". Instead, Meze showcases modern Greek music, a handful of simple chairs and basic glass tables. Behind the glass counter stuffed with all kinds of Greek appetizers and spreads, you'll find a plethora of wine bottles neatly stacked and a few hanging chalk boards outlining the menu. Meze is a Mediterranean restaurant and deli serving up a plethora of appetizers that outnumber the entrees. Some of the obvious ones are available such as Babaghanuj, Humus, and Tabuli. The entrees include such items as feta cheese filled Borek and the vegetarian Falafel stuffed with garbanzo benas and lentil.
We started with the Mediterraneo Plate ($9.95) that is a sampler of sorts for all the different spreads available, such as hummus, babganuj, and tabouli (offered a la carte for $8.95/lb). For entrees, I tested out the Borek ($9.95), one of the trademark items of Meze and Grant opted for the Chicken Pita Bread Sandwich ($9.95).
Out of all of the things we saw at Meze, the one thing that truly stands out at Meze is the affable owner, Ibo. Dressed in a matching polka-dot blue blazer, shirt, tie and pleated slacks, he was the center of attention, yet extremely friendly and quick to greet all of his customers. Our affable host was quick to recommend the fresh squeezed orange juice (only in season, and if it isn't sold out by the end of the day) or their Turkish coffee, which is one of the few places that serves this potent brew.
Meze is a great place for some quick bites and maybe a few spreads to take home and share with the rest of the family. It's hidden nature may make it less known than the ever popular Santorini in Downtown, but it's a definite worth checking out if you're looking for a laid back spot that serves some great Greek food.
For those who are not familiar with it, Borek is a pastry made with flaky phyllo-dough and stuffed with an assortment of cheese and meats. Meze offers two different types, one with feta cheese and spinach and another with chicken and mushroom. I opted for the spinach and feta cheese and I do not regret the choice one bit. One would assume that each bite is dry and crunchy, but it's surprisingly soft with a doughy texture. The pieces of spinach tasted very fresh and the feta cheese worked great in tandem with it in terms of an overall smooth texture and taste. The entree also came with a side salad of mixed greens, though it didn't leave a lasting impression on me. I really recommend the Borek and if the plate isn't enough to fill you up, you can go to the counter and order a few more to take home and heat up in your oven.
If you're not sure what spread to order, the Mediterraneo [sic] plate is the perfect sampler to find out which one you prefer. The hummus is made with garbanzo beans, olive oil, tahini, garlic and lemon juice and had a very creamy texture. Paired with the ample portions of pita bread it makes for a great combination. The babaghanuj is a type of yogurt-like dip with a strong cheese taste, which was well received. The tabuli however, wasn't my favorite of the bunch as it was too citrus and herbal for my taste buds. In my opinion, go for the babaghanuj and the hummus and you won't be disappointed.
Amazement would be one word to my thoughts of Meze, the quaint little hole-in-the-wall that most Kirkland residents probably don't even know about (and selfishly, I'll almost want to keep it that way). For a tiny deli, there's so much charm that radiates every corner: the hand chalked menu behind the counter, the rack of personally recommended wines, hand painted murals along the walls and of course, the affable and entertainingly dressed Ibo.
If you care less about the details however, by all means, ignore the background Euro-pop music and dig into some of the best hummus in the city. Never quite partial to what I've regarded as glorified garbanzo bean goup, Meze changed my mind instantly with this creamy, fragrant and lemon blessed concoction. In fact, I would have been happy scooping this "goup" with my fingers instead of the soft pita bread supplied if left to my own devices.
The babbaganuj was also delicious as well, which if you are unfamiliar, is an eggplant based dish that has a pudding and yogurt like texture and rich, smooth taste. The tabouli, a salad made with bulgar, parsley, mint, tomato, scallion, olive oil and lemon, was a little oily for my taste and best left in moderation.
When the open face chicken pita sandwich arrived, I thought I was brought the wrong dish, as all I saw was an explosion of salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, parsley and yogurt. The chicken, which is marinated in a combination of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and herbs, was quite tasty and obviously marinated for a long time due to the coloring.
I was a little disappointed in the "pita" aspect of the sandwich, as it consisted of dried pieces of pita bread that would be akin to calling a salad a "sandwich" by adding croutons to the mix. A full pita is what I expected from the description, though the lack of gyros might signal that Meze is trying to stay away from the standard Greek menu offerings for the same reasons a Chinese restaurant might veer fro the sweet and sour chicken. Understandable, but not at the expense of confusion.
In any regard, the pita sandwich (salad) was still wonderful and presented a huge mix of fresh veggies, flavors and textures. For the price, it was certainly a mouthful and one that I couldn't finish, so I imagine most will be quite satisfied with this meal.
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