It's All Greek to Me

You might remember when we wrote about the Middle Eastern feast we had at home in January that included hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, grilled leg of lamb, pita, feta salsa, tzaziki sauce and so much more. It was a glorious night of great food with a great friend.

But it's not always possible to make at home what you're craving right now, so when another friend and I were hungry for Middle Eastern food we decided to meet at a restaurant. (Disclosure: The foodie friend who joined David and I for our homemade feast told me about this place and I trust her implicitly. Julia knows food.)

I arrived at a dated, non-descript shopping center just behind Lucky's Burgers and found Zorba's at 2110 N.W. Military and quickly realized why I never "judge a restaurant by its cover."


The fresh, colorful spring gerbers planted in pots at either side of the entrance certainly made me think someone cares about the place which immediately made me happy remembering that Julia would never steer me the in the wrong direction.

And this was the smiling face that welcomed me to his restaurant.


Norm graciously greeted me and seated me at the table of my choice where I perused the menu until my friend arrived.

Hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, fattoush (a distinctively delicious Lebanese salad), lentil soup, grape leaves, Greek salad, gyros...it was all there waiting for me to make some hard and fast choices. As a pseudo-vegetarian/flexitarian/pescatarian and pork-lover, I am grateful for the dizzying array of choices I have at Mediterranean restaurants.

The menu also features a wide variety of Mediterranean dishes that include choices for both meat-eaters and vegetarians such as gyros, kebabs, chicken shawarma, a Mezze plate as well as authentic desserts and Turkish coffee.

We started with appetizers of baba ganoush, hummus and falafel. Served in authentic red clay bowls, the baba ganoush (the picture below in the dish on the right) was possibly some of the best I have ever had. It was creamy, smoky and rich and had the perfect amount of olive oil on the top. It was so yummy, I just ate it by the forkfuls...I later apologized to my friend for all my double-dipping. Oh well, we agreed it was a good sign.  



Cooked to a crispy perfection, the falafel (pictured above on the right) had just the right amount of seasoning so they were neither bland nor too overpowering.


Then I ordered the eggplant dish (pictured above) which, according to the menu, is sauteed eggplant with bell peppers and onions cooked Mediterranean-style in tomato sauce.

But let me tell you it is so much more than that.

I told Norm I could have eaten four servings of the eggplant...next time, I'm going to get the eggplant dish and ask them to serve it over a scoop of that fabulous Greek rice. I can hardly wait.

 

My friend had the eggplant gyro (above) which basically replaces the beef and lamb with grilled eggplant. She said it was delicious and ate the whole thing. I brought home a beef and lamb gyro (below) for David that he raved about.


And what's a Middle Eastern feast without trying the baklava? It was crispy, full of chopped pistachios and covered with honey. An utterly sweet ending to a savory lunch.

 

After we ate, Norm came over to check on us. I learned that he is from Jordan, an Arab country in the Middle East, and his mother taught him to cook. He laughed when he told me that his mother could make something taste a certain way and he would prepare the same dish with the same ingredients and it's just not the same.

I feel the same way about things my grandmother cooked. And I miss her touch as Norm misses his mother's.

But he is carrying on her traditions by sharing his authentic food with us. His wife works with him in the kitchen and it shows. Norm's passion shines through his food, from the smile on his face and from the care with which he and his wife plate every dish.

So the next time you're craving Middle Eastern food, just go see Norm. Zorba's is open seven days a week and their phone number is 210-541-9936.
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