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Mediterranean Hookah Lounge & Cafe

Mediterranean Hookah LoungeIn a word: Hard to believe by appearances that it could even be just OK, but it is.

The specs: #0375
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, by Parintachin; official web site; Mediterranean Hookah Lounge on Urbanspoon

JM ate the shrimp scampi with a lemonade.
Kristine ate the vegetarian falafel platter with a beer.
Kyle ate the schawarma with a beer.
Nichole ate the smelt fry with a hot tea.
The bill was about $60, or $15/person - thanks, Kyle & Kristine!
JM gave Mediterranean Hookah Lounge & Cafe a B+; Kristine, Kyle and Nichole gave Mediterranean Hookah Lounge & Cafe a B-. (see our grading rubric)

Latest Mediterranean Hookah Lounge & Cafe news and reviews

Mediterranean Hookah Lounge & Cafe. The billboard is a can't-miss mystery on the westbound beltline just before Park Street. Given its storied history as a supper club (with easy-to-remember address), bar and niteclub, we weren't sure what to expect. Thankfully we had good company to join in the adventure, which began in the parking lot dodging neighborhood kids on bikes. It continued through the funeral-home-esque lobby, past a classic Wisconsin bar, and finally into the surprisingly elegantly appointed dining room. Plush seating, dim lights and woven wall hangings, not to mention many mirrors, add up to an atmosphere conducive to both a nice dinner and the belly dancing shows that go on many nights of the week. For the record, when we were there no one was indulging in a hookah.

Our server was far above the average when it came to giving recommendations and information about the menu and the restaurant. She brought out a basket of warm wheat and white pita and good olive oil, as well as house salads which were fresh if just a bit overdressed.

Shrimp scampiJM's shrimp scampi was great - heavy on the shrimp and light on the accoutrements - but were not quite tender enough. He was glad it was not McFarland-style served over noodles with a terrible sauce. He liked Gaston's version of scampi a bit more, but he was happy to have it work out this time. The fries were decent and coated in a light batter.

Vegetarian plateKristine's vegetarian falafel platter was somewhat dry, and actually a bit awkward to eat. It was supposed to come with its own round of pita, but she used the remainder of the table's basket. Overall, she found the dish kind of bland.

TabboulehKyle's tabuli salad was made mere moments before our server brought it out to us. It was very bright and fresh, the tabouli was tender, and the whole thing was much better than a lot of the homemade tabouli he's had. The schwarma platter meat was again a little dry but tasty. There was something kinda funny and hard to place abut the cucumber sauce, but it was gratis so BFD. The whole meal was decent, but it's a tough question whether it would beat Parthenon's take on the same.

Smelt fryWhy smelt fry at a Mediterranean lounge in a trailer park? Because it's Wisconsin, we guess. And this fry was not bad. There was an ample quantity of the little breaded fishies, as well as a baked potato and three cups on the side of sour cream, tahini and tartar. The tahini made for an unusual dipping sauce, but the lightly nutty, less greasy texture actually fit well with the fishiness of the smelt.

Mediterranean Hookah Lounge and Cafe is giving it their all, and they've put together a very approachable place given the circumstances. Still, some stuff just didn't fit - or, as Kyle put it, the lounge's "crazy-ass-est location ever" is a big obstacle to overcome.


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Awww! You guys didn't have a Hookah? But that's the best part!

No smokey. Never have, never will. Not even for the sake of an idiom.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the place when I went. They have a pretty good ventilation system; there were people smoking in the hookah room and we couldn't smell it at all in the eating area. The food was fine pan-Mediterranean stuff; nothing really stood out one way or the other. The bellydancer was a cool lady, she chatted with us. I didn't smoke after dinner but my friends did, the waitress was nice about explaining how it worked to newbies.

It's not a place I'd go out of my way for, but it was nice, particularly the service. Unfortunately, for almost everyone it *is* going to be a place they have to go out of the way for.

By out of the way you guys mean in the back of a trailer park, where the trailer park is in Madison's "hood". It is a really odd location, and the "locals" bar on one side of the place is pretty amazing in it's own way.

I only ate the baklava, which was good, while I enjoyed a hookah. I'd like to get back there again someday.

When my friend suggested we go here for dinner one night about a year ago, I was not thrilled about the idea, mostly due to the location. However, the food was surprisingly good- soft, warm pitas, good hummus and a decent shwarma. We don't smoke, so no clue on the hookah.

I've been back a couple of times to the bar, but only in a group!

Out of curiosity. Since Madison has a pretty strict smoking ban, why is smoking allowed here???

It's in the Town of Madison, on one of the crinkly edges of the boundary between the city and town.

Thanks, Nichole. :-) That would explain it.

Bill and I just ate there again on Saturday, so I had to come back here to see what you thought. Mostly we go for the bellydancing, as there are few places to see dancers perform in the area. We always find the food solidly mediocre: edible but nothing to write home about. The few bright spots are the hummus (excellent), the tabouli salad (Bill's fave), and the faux-tinis. (Though I must admit that anything deep-fried there is usually good.) Opah!

Re-reading this review, it seems current events have conspired to make my comment on the shwarma platter much more negative than I meant it back then.

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