The the­ory is mouth­wa­ter­ing but re­al­ity falls rather short

The Herald Magazine - - NEWS - MEZZIDAKIA GLAS­GOW

OK, so they had me at Greece’s No1 soft drink – Epsa. Leap­ing straight out of the menu and shout­ing “Or­der me.” At the very same time Mov­ing on Up by M Peo­ple is leap­ing right out of the sound sys­tem. Let’s just say there’s a cheery, breezy, friendly, hey-man-how-can-I-helpyou-type vibe from the place.

I’ll have a sour cherry Epsa, I say. In a bot­tle. Or­der­ing this has the in­stant bonus of stop­ping the waiter from go­ing through the list of drinks on of­fer. I can al­most hear the car­toon screech. Though why a restau­rant would want to go through the drinks rather than the food is be­yond me.

Any­way, we switch to the menu and spook­ily the sound­track al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ously switches to Lost in Mu­sic by Sis­ter Sledge. Maybe you’ve got to be a cer­tain age to get into this groove, although as I scan the art­fully dis­tressed decor of Mezzidakia I can’t help notic­ing tonight’s cus­tomers all seem con­sid­er­ably younger, and a lot hip­per, than moi.

On to the mezze plates, then, be­cause that’s what we are cur­rently dis­cussing. And im­me­di­ately we are run­ning into trou­ble. Now, page one of the Bumper Book of Restau­rant Re­view­ing states quite plainly that the most off­beat, most ornery, most chal­leng­ing dish should be or­dered.

So ... yalantzi dol­mades, please, or vine leaves stuffed with baby aubergine, rice, lemon, cumin and thyme. “Oooh,” the waiter says, suck­ing in his teeth. “Didn’t my col­league men­tion we don’t have them tonight?” Lebanese dol­mas then – minced lamb, rice, oregano and cin­na­mon? “In fact these are the only two things we don’t have tonight,” the waiter adds.

Ah, come on pal, I’m think­ing but not say­ing, while flip-flop­ping round the Mediter­ranean menu, try­ing to or­der dishes that will re­veal if there’s any­thing spe­cial avail­able here. Cre­tian kala­ma­rakia, Lebanese kibbeh, kafta ke­bab, a gyro with lamb sou­vlaki, some tab­bouleh. It’s like a culi­nary ver­sion of The Gen­er­a­tion Game. You will have no­ticed by now that there’s a fair mix of cul­tural flavours on of­fer. Yes, this is one of those “in­spired by” restau­rants bring­ing more off­beat foods with big flavours slap, bang on to the High Street, or rather St Vin­cent Street in down­town Glas­gow.

I’ll say this: the food ar­rives fast. I’ve just fin­ished my first (very small) bot­tle of sour cherry Epsa – it’s quite re­fresh­ing – and al­ready the Cre­tian kala­ma­rakia have ar­rived – cala­mari with a pa­prika, oregano, pep­per­corn and semolina crust. Frankly? They needn’t have both­ered with all those flavours. I can’t re­ally taste any of them in the dry, too-crumbly and not-very-good bat­ter. It’s slightly over-fried, more dark brown than golden.

This prob­lem also af­flicts the ejje koussa or Lebanese zuc­chini and cheese frit­ters. These taste faintly of cheese and largely of noth­ing else. At least the kibbeh – minced lamb, bul­gar wheat and po­tato cro­quettes – smack of all­spice and cin­na­mon but they’re big, pota­toey and kind of bland.

I’ll give full marks for pre­sen­ta­tion to the gyro, which comes in a cone of grease­proof pa­per with a rea­son­ably pil­lowy wrap around it. The lamb is pleas­ant enough, the salad adds moist­ness but it’s not by any means a con­ver­sa­tion stop­per. And it tastes a lit­tle too crudely of oregano for me.

There are some rea­son­able skinny Greek fries and fi­nally that Lebanese kafta ke­bab ar­rives. Tightly sealed in a toasted flat­bread, sea­soned with that very, very hot shug sauce, the meat in this is much bet­ter than

in the gyro. The whole thing is slightly spoiled by the very vine­gary flavour of a fat­toush salad that’s packed in, mak­ing the whole thing taste slightly pick­led.

I for­got to men­tion that lit­tle dish of tab­bouleh on the side. It should be more veg­etable than cous­cous. It’s not. I de­tect no mint, it tastes strongly of spring onion rather than cu­cum­ber and it’s very cold and claggy from the fridge. Not great.

The ver­dict on Mezzidakia, then, is this: jack of all cuisines, master of none.

If you know a restau­rant Ron should re­view, email ron­mackenna@fast­


Clas­sic dance tunes, art­fully dis­tressed decor and fault­less staff make Mezzidakia a pleas­ant place to be

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