Curiosity will bring you in, our food will bring you back is what is written on the menu and boy oh boy, we found that to be the truth last week while dining at Fresh Mediterranean Cafe.  The seriousness of a middle Eastern restaurant rests in its hummus—great hummus must never be taken for granted and the hummus was incredible, a flavor to be reckoned with. So, while the overwhelming popularity of Fresh Mediterranean Café may have a lot to do with their Grilled Salmon Shish Kabob or the Lamb Gyro Wrap or possibly the Cornish Game Hen, it is the Hummus that keeps Simon (owner-chef) up at night. Delicious hummus sets the mood for the entire experience and at Fresh Mediterranean Café, you will indeed enjoy the experience.

I asked my friend Kip to join me for lunch and what we found was a quaint, Mediterranean restaurant with beautiful art adorning the walls. We sat at a table and immediately ordered three appetizers—Hummus (ground chick peas, garlic, lemon juice & tahini sauce topped with olive oil), Tzatziki (yogurt, garlic, cucumber with mint) and Dolma (stuffed grape leaves with rice, tomato, onion & parsley). 

We loved the dolma—a combination of a finger-food and comfort-food with a smooth and creamy texture, rich green color and a touch of red spice. This turned out to be the hit of the day and very addicting—we ate a couple before the meal, a couple during the meal and a couple after the meal.

We just couldn’t get enough of that flavor.

The Tzatziki was a good balance between tart and citrus and I not only drizzled it on everything and I mean everything, but I dipped my pita bread and dolma in it as well. The flavor is charming and elegant in its simplicity—delicious, cool and refreshing. There was enough left over to take home and I enjoyed it for the next couple of days.

We ordered quite a few other dishes to get a good sampling of the menu—Chicken Shawarma plate, Chicken & Beef Kabob Combination, Pork Chop plate and a Falafel Sandwich all of which include rice, hummus and salad. 

The Falafel Sandwich which is one of the most beloved Middle Eastern food was served on warm pita bread, stuffed with well-seasoned hot falafel balls, diced tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and drenched with a subtle nutty tahini sauce. The Falafel balls were evenly soft and moist through the middle, rich in color with a yummy flavor all wrapped in a soft pita.

The pork chop plate had a deliciously seasoned, moist, tender chop marinated in Mediterranean herbs & spices and included a grilled tomato halve and grilled pepper. We really enjoyed the chop as well as the rice, hummus and salad. The salad dressing made an ordinary green salad into something extraordinary—the delicate flavor with a hint of lemon let the natural taste of the lettuce, tomatoes & onion shine through. The hummus was outstanding as noted above and the wonderful tasting rice which was soft, not like any rice I've ever tasted before; light and buttery.

The chicken shawarma was next--tender, sliced pieces of well-seasoned, tender and juicy chicken. A little piece of heaven right here on earth. There was a basket of warm pita bread on the table that I used to wrap the pieces of chicken, then adding a dab of hummus and a drizzle of tzatziki. Voila, a beautiful pita wrap was born!

Last but certainly not least was the beef and chicken kabob combination. Chicken and beef pieces marinated Mediterranean-style with warm spices and garlic grilled to perfection. For me, a generous drizzle of tzatziki on top was a must bringing the kabobs to awhile new level of delicious...

Of course, no Mediterranean meal is over without a little Napoleon or baklava, so we ordered the Baklava—flakey, phyllo dough stacked with honey and nuts a traditional Mediterranean dessert that everyone loves, including us! Oh, and who wouldn’t love this sweet nutty, light, delicate goodness?

At Fresh Mediterranean Café the menu is healthy and delicious—they do so much with tomatoes, cucumbers, nice light cheeses, special spices, and a little light oil. So good. And, for the meat lover there are different beef, lamb and chicken dishes made into wonderful arrangements. One of the secrets in Mediterranean dining is the spices. They make things wonderful, and yet, they are not too spicy. They are all about the flavor. Some of the offerings at Fresh Mediterranean include: Babaganoush (mashed eggplant, tahini sauce and fresh garlic), Falafel (deep-fried ground chick peas), Fresh Salads, Cornish Game Hen, Pork & Lamb Chops, Salmon Kabobs, Shish Kabob, Chicken & Beef Shawarma (finely sliced and marinated), Armenian Pizza (thin crust w/minced beef & ground veggies) and the list goes on and on. It's just a celebration of all good things to eat. We even noticed French fries at one of the other tables and they looked fabulous, can’t wait to try them!

So, what's guaranteed tasty, even nutritious, and really good? You guessed it, Fresh Mediterranean Café, a charming eatery that serves up an enthusiastic variety of fresh dishes and all the dining touches that make Mediterranean a treat. What a great lunch we had—it was Falafelicious! Open Mon.- Sat. 11am-9pm and Sun. for catering only. Located in Palmdale—833 W. Palmdale Blvd., (661) 267-6666. Check out the menu at  www.freshmediterraneancafe.com. Bon Appetit-

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