It sometimes seems as if we're becoming a city of Mexican and Mediterranean eateries.
A new Mexican restaurant with a liquor license is a sure bet to draw a crowd almost immediately after opening its doors. And Mediterranean places seem to pop up whenever a new report about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet is published.
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Into this crowded field comes a worthy contender: Bloudan's Mediterranean Restaurant in Sylvania Township near King Road. Opened in July, the place was handsomely renovated in what was previously Al Saher 2, a modest diner in the Quarry Side Shops.
It is airy, contemporary, and understated. A curvilinear stone bar is echoed by a tray ceiling. Tables are covered with thick white paper.
Lunch is an especially good deal. Salads and pita-bread sandwiches are $5 to $8 and entrees with substantial sides are $8 to $10. The separate dinner menu's entrees run $13 to $16.
Address: 7430 W. Central, Sylvania
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday
through Thursday. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday.
Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: bloudanrestaurant.com.
Thin pita bread with a dipping dish of herbs in olive oil is brought to the table upon arrival.
And somebody order rice: It's shaped into a tidy pyramid and contains a bit of corn and peas.
The golden lentil soup (with onions and carrots) in a generous bowl is pureed, mild, and delicious, and can be ordered as a side dish. On one occasion it wasn't hot.
We had mixed thoughts on the grape leaves (platter is $7.99 for five rolls at lunch; $13.99 for 10 at dinner). Lamb grape leaves, firmly packed with rice, were very good, but the vegetarian, loosely filled with only rice in an underwhelming sauce, were not satisfying.
The gyro (platter with two sides, $7.99), is a hefty serving of admirably seasoned, grilled lamb and beef, in thick pita wrapped in a cone with tomatoes and tzatziki sauce (mainly plain yogurt and cucumbers).
The substantial Bloudanian entree ($9.99) had hummus, baba ganoush (both good), three vegetarian grape leaves, and a trio of deep-fried falafel. The falafel were a little over cooked, and an accompanying skewer of chicken ($3.99) was dry.
At dinner I had the kind of experience I always enjoy in a restaurant: I sent food back. I appreciated the thin grilled crunch of the salmon ($15.99, two narrow rectangles totalling eight ounces) but its red sauce was a scorcher. In my former life as a martyr, I would have grimaced and scraped off the offending sauce. But martrydom and food critiquing are not compatible occupations, so I sent it to the kitchen and asked for something more palatable. This provides good information: Will the cook come up with a suitable alternative and quickly return the food on a freshened plate? And will he check to see if the customer is satisfied?
Take Two was a creamy cucumber-mint sauce, very nice as was the cup of tzatziki I requested. And yes, chef/owner Leo Dehabey came to table and talked food and recipes for five minutes.
My dinner companions liked their meals but found the spices a tad much for their tongues.
The special that night was stuffed pepper ($12.99) with a choice of color. My guest selected red, the sweetest, smothered with a tomato sauce. The lamb-rice filling that made for a fine, firm grape leaf seemed, when packed into a much larger, whole pepper, too dense and almost hard. I suspect we're accustomed to a more tender, comfort-food filling in stuffed peppers.
Chicken shawarma was quite garlicky; it's marinated in a garlic-lemon mix before meeting the grill and is embellished with a garlic sauce. Red potatoes were oil-saturated.
Thumbs up for the creamy home-made rice pudding ($1.99).
Unlike some ethnic restaurants, there are no American offerings such as burgers or tuna sandwiches.
The level of noise and music is thankfully low, in part because it wasn't crowded either time I was there. The servers, thoroughly pleasant human beings, needed more instruction about the food.
Chef Dehabey, a 2007 Sylvania Southview grad and basketball standout, owns the place with his parents, Lawrence and Janet Dehabey, who hail from Bloudan, Syria.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics' meals.41.67443 -83.72117
Another worthy Mediterranean option for Toledo diners