Cuisine: Middle Eastern
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The bottom line: Not a bad find
Lately I’ve been having trouble getting excited about going to lunch at places near where I work. For the most part I’ve tried a lot of the nearby restaurants and others haven’t caught my attention that much. There is also a good bit of fast food chain restaurants around and well when it comes to writing a review I try to stay clear of those.
In order to switch things up a little I decided to expand my lunch option radius a little bit more (but not far enough to be able to go to Persis for the buffet ). Upon doing that I ended up near a fairly new section of Matthews where the Publix and other shops have opened up. The area looked pretty nice to me and I’ll probably start looking into what other places I might be able to frequent there.
However, for this occasion one of my coworkers and I decided to settle on a restaurant called The Jerusalem Café. One of my other favorite cuisines (I have many really) is Mediterranean and this café serves exactly that. The restaurant itself is relatively small and as soon as you enter you’ll see tables lined against the wall. There isn’t a hostess stand so you kind of stand around until someone tells you to sit down. The walls have pictures of Middle Eastern landscapes and music softly plays in the background. It’s a nice quiet spot to have a serene lunch at. Especially when all you are wanting to do is have a little escape from the office setting.
The menu of The Jerusalem Café has typical fare like hummus, falafel, shawarma, tabbouleh, and more. For this specific occasion I was feeling like sticking to the vegetarian side and the good thing about Middle Eastern food is that they have various tasty options for you. Instead of ordering different things from the menu you have the option between two vegetarian entrées at a reasonable price. For $13 I ordered the Vegetarian Combo which came with stuffed grape leaves, hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, and falafel. There is also pita bread that is served with your order.
The stuffed grape leaves were tasty and had a lot of depth when it came to flavor. The leaves were filled with rice and spiced with seasonings. I didn’t know if these specifically also had parsley and lemon juice which are common ingredients of this dish. I enjoyed them even though they were smaller in size. Since these were the vegetarian option you won’t find the ground beef which usually forms part of the filling. Next up was the falafel made of chick peas and different spices. The plate brings about 4 pieces and I liked them a lot. They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The tabbouleh was served separately and to be honest with you I took only about 2 bites of it. I was already getting stuffed from everything else I was eating! Something else that I did eat was the baba ghanoush. It was my first time trying this dish and it brought unexpected surprises. For one, the eggplant had a strong smoky taste. Not in a bad way though. I later found out that this is a common way of preparing the dish. In my opinion it makes the eggplant have such a bold flavor. Believe me after eating some of this you won’t forget what eating baba ghanoush is like. The last thing that I ate was the hummus. You get a good serving of it and you get to eat it with your pita bread :) Overall it wasn’t bad although it didn’t taste as fresh as I have had at other places.
During lunch time I only saw one waitress for the entire restaurant but thankfully for her it wasn’t packed. The service was OK and we got our meal in a timely fashion which is always something important. I would say my experience at The Jerusalem Café was a decent one and I wouldn’t discount it completely from becoming a new lunch spot to go to.