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Ann ate the chicken apricot pie with a lemonade.
JM ate the falafel plate with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the chicken apricot pie with an Americano and a couple pieces of baklava to go.
Peter H. ate the lamb hummus plate with a lemonade.
The bill was $19.78 plus tip (for 2).
JM gave Mediterranean Cafe an A-; Nichole gave Mediterranean Cafe an A (see our grading rubric).
Mediterranean Cafe is another east campus/State Street institution, beloved of students, former students, random passers-by and anyone who appreciates a good value on homecooked, pan-Mediterranean eats. At lunchtime the line pours out the door and down the street but tables turn fast, thanks to ample staffing and fast hands. Daily specials, of which the chicken apricot pie was one, add variety to a small but solid menu.
Though our meal today was off to an inauspicious start - we dumped our lemonades - the staff cleaned up and replaced the drinks very quickly and with a smile. While we're on the subject of beverages, Nichole's Americano was hot and rich.
The ubiquitous pita was great. (Ever the good neighbor, Med Cafe collects bread scraps to feed some needy chickens and reduce waste at the same time). The salads that came with each of our meals featured very red tomatoes, fresh cucumbers and romaine lettuce with a light vinegar and oil dressing, with just a hint of dill. Rice was another staple of each plate, the grains of which were individual, lightly oiled, and a bit salty.
Peter tried the lamb hummus plate, which featured excellent, tender lamb a la gyros meat. The schwarma was a bit on the sour side, and the hummus a little too runny. On JM's falafel plate, his favorite was the salad, while the rice and sauce were just OK. The falafel itself was quite good though a little dry despite the yogurt sauce, and he finished it off.
Ann and Nichole both opted for the chicken apricot pie - think casserole. The sweet, starchy base of rice, apricots, and chicken pieces could have used a textural contrast. Though it included slivered almonds, these were sogged out. The base layer was topped with a creamy, custard-like stratum that tasted vaguely of rosewater but not cloyingly so. The pastry topping above that was nicely browned but under yet another layer of thinner plain yogurt. This all added up to a melange that started out comforting and warm but ended up a little too sweet - that and the large portions led Nichole and Ann to leave some of their lunches untouched.
While in the Ms, JM has bemoaned that too many places were women's places: Ma-Cha, Macy's Cafe, Madeleine's, Marigold Kitchen etc. These places give off a vibe of emasculation. Or as Ann and Peter put it less bluntly, "Chick places always have salads and desserts. Guy places have big helpings of meat." Med Cafe seems to be toeing the line between the manly portions and the more XX-chromosome cuisine. This turns out to also reflect the clientele, which is basically anybody who wants a fast & cheap lunch that is really tasty.