The Lunch Bunch goes Greek

7 mins read

By MARGARET EVANS

Winter blew in early the day the Lunch Bunch gathered at Mezes Mediterranean Grill downtown. Outside it was cold and gray, but we were cozy at our corner table looking out on Port Republic Street. Our server, Michelle, brought hot tea with honey and lemon, along with a radiant smile, and we warmed right up.

Though we’d all had dinner at Mezes, the restaurant only recently opened for lunch, so this would be an adventure. Even the menu was new.

We started with an array of appetizers, and had we known how fantastic they’d be – and fantastically filling – we might have stopped there. But probably not. After all, we are the Lunch Bunch. We have obligations.

Dawn had heard good things about the Shrimp Santorini, Jeff wanted to try the Hummus and the Dolmades, and we all agreed it’s just not a trip to Mezes – day or night – without the Saganaki (i.e. flaming cheese).

“We have to import that kefalotiri cheese,” said chef Jim Tsironikes, as we marveled over its gooey, crusty perfection. “You can’t just go out and buy it at Publix.”

Jim is also co-owner of the restaurant, along with his cousin George Babalis.

We ooh’d and ah’d over all the apps; I think the flaming cheese was the table favorite, but the Shrimp Santorini was a close second. The most exotic – i.e. Greek – of the appetizers were the Dolmades, hand-wrapped grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, lamb and rice, drizzled with egg lemon sauce. I could have happily eaten a few of those and been done for the day.

But again, duty called. The entrees had arrived.

My Vegetable Pita was stuffed full of goodness – grilled zucchini, eggplant, onion, mushrooms, peppers and hummus. Thanks to the apps, I was full before I started, but that didn’t stop me from doing some serious damage. I earned imagined virtue points by discarding the pita about halfway through and eating the grilled veggies with my fork. Yum.

Meanwhile, Betty was exploring her Beet Salad. She was surprised to discover it was “all beets” – no lettuce on the bottom – lightly mixed in Greek yogurt, with garlic, olive oil and walnuts. I recommend ordering this salad only if you really like beets. (Fortunately, Betty does!)

Dawn ordered the Greek Salad, which was “classic” in the best sense of the word – tomato, pepperoncini, cucumber, onion, olives, feta … and, yes, lettuce.

Both Betty and Dawn had soup with their salad. It was that kind of day. Betty tried the Yia Yia’s Avgolemono – traditional Greek egg-lemon soup with chicken and rice – and declared, “it tastes like fall.” (That’s a good thing!) Not to be outdone, Dawn said the Creamy Roasted Squash Chicken Soup “tastes like comfort.”

I found myself with a raging case of soup envy.

Jeff loved his Gyro Pita, which Mezes calls “traditional” because it’s made with pork. That’s right, pork. According to Chef Jim – who is actually Greek – legit Gyros are made with pork or chicken, not lamb. (“That’s a Chicago Gyro,” he said, “and it’s about 80 percent fat.”) Who knew?

Mindy went “traditional” Greek, too, with the Spanikopita – spinach and feta cheese wrapped in filo – calling it flaky and delicious.

Did I mention that almost every entrée comes with fries? Yes, French fries. We weren’t complaining – they’re great fries – but we were curious, so we asked Chef Jim about the connection. As it turns out, while French fries aren’t exactly Greek – they’re French, silly – in Greece, they serve fries with everything. Again, who knew? I’m telling you, this was more than just a meal; it was a cultural experience.

Alas, all good cultural experiences must come to an end, and so it was with this one. Feeling full, fat, and finished, we hoped to slink out of Mezes without the temptation of dessert, but that is not the Greek way. Despite our protests, a large slice of Baklava arrived at the table, and it just seemed rude to decline.

We each had a bite – of course it was fab; it’s Baklava – then said our thanks and farewells as quickly as possible, lest something even more decadent should be materializing in the kitchen.

We left in agreement that Mezes is a great addition to Beaufort’s downtown lunch scene. If you’re looking for something a little different for your noontime meal, we recommend going Greek.

Mezes Mediterranean Grill

906 Port Republic Street

843-522-1866

www.mezesbeaufort.com

DINNER

Monday–Thursday, 4-9 p.m.

Friday, Saturday, 4-10 p.m.

LUNCH

Thursday – Saturday,

11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

CLOSED Sunday

 

Margaret Evans is co-publisher of The Island News, editor of Lowcountry Weekly (www.lcweekly.com), and blogs at www.memargaret.com.

 

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