I enjoy Mediterranean cuisine. From my first experience with it as a child through my post-university backpacking travels abroad to Paris' Latin Quarter where cheap, yet very good and authentic, gyros abound in little sidewalk stands, Baba Ganoush, Spanakopita, gyros, falafel, Tahini, Tabouli, Souvlaki, basmati rice and pita bread became as familiar to me as the term "hamburger."
Unlike other native cuisines in Tulsa restaurants, Mediterranean food remains hard to find. For this reason, I was eager to visit Pita Place Mediterranean Grill, in the northeast corner of 111th and Memorial.
I dined here for lunch with a friend recently, and, walking in, service (as is true in many of these strip mall settings) is at a front counter. We took time to survey the menu. Many options are listed on a large board on the wall behind the "order here" area.
Mezza is listed first; it is a term referring to food served at the beginning of a meal and is traditionally served with drinks. Also traditionally, this beginning consists of a variety of nuts, pickles, cheeses and other foods intended to be eaten with one's fingers. Here, the Mezza menu includes such items as Cabbage Rolls, Spanakopita (Greek pastry--phyllo dough--filled with spinach, feta cheese, onions, egg and seasoning), Dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves), Falafel (deep fried patty made from chick peas or fava beans and spices), Tabouli, Hommus Dip and Baba Ganoush Dip (eggplant and tahini--a paste made from sesame seeds).
Diners will find some American food scattered about the menu, as early as with the appetizers, which include French fries, fried mushrooms, onion rings and mozzarella sticks. Soups include lentil and chicken curry while the salad menu consists of Greek, Mediterranean and Mediterranean pasta. The pita sandwiches, what my dining companion and I were eager to sample, are divided into three versions. Specialty pita sandwiches include gyros, Souvlaki (shish kabob), chicken kabob, Mid-East burger and Mid-East hot dog. Classic pita sandwiches include turkey club, ham and cheese, Philly steak and Philly chicken, and vegetarian pita sandwiches include falafel, veggie supreme and hummus and tabouli.
After studying the menu, I was ready to order. Just as I began stating my order, the restaurant phone rang and the person taking my order immediately answered the call and spoke a few minutes, without any word to me for the abrupt interruption. I was stunned with this rude behavior, for there was another person behind the counter who could have answered the call. Once he finished his conversation--which appeared to be personal--I was able to continue with my order.
We seated ourselves at a table, noticing the dining room had a number of tables still dirty with trays and leftover food that had yet to be cleared. We found a clean table among the dirty ones and eagerly awaited our meals.
My friend and I began with a sampling from the Mezza menu, the falafel ($1.99). This was served with a yogurt dip with a defined lemon taste. These were good, simple with the traditional taste and texture common to this fried vegetarian dish.
For our pitas, we selected the Gyros and the Souvlaki.
We also ordered a side of basmati rice and an order of Rose Cake ($1.79) for dessert. The gyros sandwich was fully packed with ingredients--red onion, lettuce, tomato and of course the traditional roasted meat (sliced off the vertical rotisserie) and Tzatziki sauce (which has a yogurt base with lemon juice, olive oil and cucumber). This was great, but a bit unwieldy to eat without utensils at some point along the way.
The Souvlaki was a bit better than the gyros, we both thought. Chunks of tender and thoroughly marinated beef filled this sandwich. The marinated meat had a definite hint of citrus, lemon. The dressing on this sandwich had a dominate mint flavor and had an olive oil and vinegar base with a citrus splash.
The basmati rice was dry and simple, just as is expected. Basmati is long-grain rice known for its delicate fragranced taste and flavor.
Rose Cake, Date Cookies and Baklava are on the dessert menu. We sampled the Rose Cake was served in two small squares and was richly saturated with a sauce, with hints of almond and rose water.
Pita Place also serves entrees, which come with basmati rice and pita bread, and include Gyros, Falafel, Chicken-Kabob, Souvlaki, Shrimp Kabob, and Lamb Shank. I took home an order of the Lamb Shank and found it quite good. It was a huge piece of meat and bone, ultimately tender and with a mild flavor. Basmati rice came with the Shank and a little juice or gravy accompanied the dish. I would have enjoyed this meal more with additional sauce for the rice and lamb.
A little deli of sorts in Pita Place offers such take-home items as Grape Leaves, Pickled Eggplant, Feta Cheese, Quince Lemon Syrup, Basmati Rice, Ahmad Teas and even flavored tobacco. I recommend sampling the Abali Yogurt Soda for a true surprise in the palate.
Pita Place Mediterranean Grill
8315 E. 111th St. S., Ste A, Bixby
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