Posts Tagged ‘Mediterranean’


Thursday, September 8th, 2011 by virginia

Our friends Silva and Felipe have been raving about Mémé, a Mediterranean restaurant in the West Village that is related to one of their favorite restaurants, Virage. Pronounced “may-may”, which means “grandma” in French Moroccan, the menu features assorted tapas/small plates and heartier entrees that reflect the owners’ heritage. We’ve been eager to try it out because we’ve heard such great things about the restaurant, and we also really enjoy Virage as well. We were thrilled when we were able to go to Mémé with Silva and Felipe for a last minute dinner on a random Tuesday evening.

We got to the restaurant around 8:45 and the place was packed. It’s not a huge restaurant but it was a beautiful night and they had tables set up on the sidewalk, which were also full. There was a little bit of a wait but since it was so nice outside we didn’t mind enjoying the fresh air and catching up as we waited for a table to open up. A short while later, we were seated inside. Even though the restaurant was full, the noise level wasn’t too bad and we could still chat pretty easily.

After looking over the menu, we decided to share a few small plates/tapas to start. Since Silva and Felipe are so familiar with the restaurant, Josh and I told them to order whatever they thought was good. They selected four different dishes to share for our appetizer, and then we each picked our own entrees. After we placed our orders, we dug into the dish of olives and pickled vegetables they gave us, along with some bread and seasoned olive oil. The bread was really quite good; it had a sturdy crust, a chewy texture, and was studded with briny olives.

Olives, seasoned olive oil, and pickled vegetables

Crusty olive bread

Our tapas arrived shortly, and we all eagerly dug in. First up was the ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream. There’s a similar dish at Virage that Josh and I have tried before, and we absolutely love it. This version was just as tasty, with soft, delicate pillows of ricotta gnocchi swimming in a rich, creamy sauce flavored with truffle oil. The truffle flavor is fantastically intense. After all the gnocchis were eaten, Josh and I used lots of bread to mop up all of the sauce.

Ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream

Next there were spicy carrots, which are seasoned with Moroccan spices. It was really an interesting dish, and I’m curious as to how the carrots are prepared. They’re soft but not mushy, and have a wonderfully exotic flavor to them. These were certainly far from a boring old bowl of carrots. If I knew how to make these, I’d eat carrots more often!

Spicy carrots with Moroccan spices

Both Silva and Felipe love the merguez at Mémé, which is served with hummus, pita, and chopped salad. The sausage had a nice snap to it and lots of spices mixed throughout the meat. It was very flavorful and paired well with the hummus and salad.

Merguez sausage with hummus and chopped salad

Lastly, we had an order of fried artichoke topped with shaved manchego cheese. The artichokes were delicately crisp on the outside, and the salty manchego really complemented them well. There were two dipping sauces on the side, an herb aioli and a tomato/red pepper sauce, but I actually enjoyed just eating the artichoke and manchego plain. It was a pretty big portion and easily shareable.

Fried artichoke with shaved manchego, baby greens, two sauces

For our entrees, Josh and I went halfsies on Mémé’s couscous and the lamb two ways. The couscous featured merguez, chicken, vegetables, and chickpeas cooked in a broth and served over couscous. I’ve never had couscous in broth before, just dry and fluffy, so I thought it was a bit unusual but interesting. The chicken was falling off the bone tender, and the vegetables featured yellow squash, potatoes, and carrots. It was a hearty, comforting dish. My only complaint was that it was a little under-seasoned so it was slightly bland, but they do give you an herb mixture and some harissa on the side to liven things up a bit.

Mémé's couscous - merguez and chicken, vegetables, and chickpeas cooked in bouillon over couscous

The lamb two ways featured lamb chops served on top of ratatouille and mashed potato and a lamb kebab with hummus and chopped salad. I asked for the lamb to be cooked medium rare, and it was perfectly executed. Both the chops and the kebabs were tender and well seasoned, and the meats had a nice gamey flavor to them. The ratatouille tasted fresh and sweet, and the mashed potatoes were a good accompaniment. I really enjoyed this dish.

Two way lamb - chops with ratatouille and mashed potato; kebab with hummus and chopped salad

Felipe had the lamb burger, which is what he always gets apparently, and Silva had the short rib bourguignon. It was a massive serving of short rib that had been slow cooked in red wine, mushrooms, and shallots. Josh and I had a taste and the meat was tender and well seasoned, and the sauce was intensely rich with red wine flavor.

Overall Josh and I both really enjoyed the meal we had at Mémé. We were glad that we experienced it for the first time with Silva and Felipe since they’re so familiar with the menu. There are so many tapas on the list that we wouldn’t have known where to begin. Nevertheless, I definitely would like to go back and try more of them, as the menu is incredibly diverse and extensive. Prices are pretty reasonable with the smaller plates ranging from $7-$12 and entrees averaging about $20 each. The portions are big enough to share, and it’s a great place to go with a small group.

We were too full for dessert but Silva had thoughtfully brought us some macarons from the newly opened Lauderée on the Upper East Side. We ate them after we got home and though they got a tiny bit smashed in transit they were still light, crispy, and very tasty. The rose flavored macaron had a nice floral taste but wasn’t overwhelming. I preferred the pistachio flavored macaron though, which captured the essence of pistachio perfectly. It was the perfect finish to a lovely evening.

581 Hudson St. between 11th and Bank St.
New York, NY


Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by virginia

Kashkaval is a Mediterranean cheese market and wine bar that I had been meaning to try since we moved into our neighborhood but we never got around to it. We passed it all the time though and it always looked busy. One weeknight Josh and I were meeting our friends Shiraz and Nicole for an early dinner so I suggested Kashkaval, hoping that we’d be able to just walk in. Luckily they had one table available that wasn’t reserved until 9:30 pm so we had plenty of time to grab a bite to eat.

The front of the restaurant is the cheese market, and they sell assorted breads, meats, salads, and dips as well. The dining area is in the back and it’s quite cozy, with exposed brick walls and lots of wine bottles on display. Tables are packed in and close together but fortunately the table we got was actually a large booth tucked in the corner so we had plenty of space for the four of us.

We ordered a bottle of wine to share, an Argentinean malbec. It was one of the cheaper options on the menu but was perfectly drinkable. We decided to share a large sampler platter of cold Mediterranean tapas, which allowed us to choose up to six of the appetizers/dips/salads that were on the tapas list. We selected the spicy walnut pepper spread, stuffed grape leaves, baba ganoush, red pepper spread, lentil salad, and beet skordalia. It was hard to choose because there were so many options that looked appealing.

Stuffed grape leaves, lentil salad, baba ganoush, red pepper spread, beet skordalia, spicy walnut pepper spread

My favorite items on the platter were the stuffed grape leaves, which were soft and flavorful, the baba ganoush, which had a nice smokey eggplant flavor, and the spicy walnut pepper spread, which was an interesting spicy/tangy/nutty combination. The red pepper spread was pretty tasty as well, but the beet skordalia didn’t have enough beet or garlic flavor (I think I prefer potato skordalia), and the lentil salad was slightly bland. The menu said the large platter would serve 3-5 people, which is about right. They bring you baskets of of whole wheat pita bread to dip and spread with, and the carbs help to fill you up.

Whole wheat pita bread

Since this restaurant was also a cheese market, we definitely wanted to try out one of the cheese fondues. The special fondue of the day, made with Danish fontina and raclette, was our first choice but unfortunately they had run out of it. We settled instead for the kashkaval fondue, figuring that if the restaurant is named after this particular type of cheese, it must be pretty good. We decided to get an order for two instead of four, since we had ordered that large sampler platter. The fondue came with cubes of baguette for dipping.

Dipping pieces of baguette into kashkaval cheese fondue

The kashkaval cheese had a nice nutty flavor to it and a great, elastic stringy texture that made it fun to dip into. We were able swirl lots of cheese around each piece of baguette, which was a good thing. The fondue was slightly greasy, though I’m not sure if it was the cheese or the olive oil they mixed into it. It did soak into the bread but that just gave it a nice buttery flavor. Towards the end, however, the cheese definitely seized up and became super hard so we sadly had to stop dipping and leave behind a fair amount at the bottom of the pot.

Overall I really liked the food and the atmosphere at Kashkaval. It did have a wine bar kind of vibe to it but was still low key, which I prefer. Tables were pretty tight together but it wasn’t overly loud; we were able to carry on a conversation fairly easily. There were a lot of choices with regard to tapas and cheese/meat platters but there weren’t too many main entrees available. I didn’t mind though because we just shared a bunch of stuff, which meant that we got to try a lot of different things. Prices are pretty reasonable, with the large sampler platter costing $18 and the fondue was $24 ($12 per serving). With wine, plus tax and tip, it came out to about $25 per person, which isn’t too bad. I definitely plan on going back so that I can try more items from the tapas list!

856 9th Ave. between 55th and 56th St.
New York, NY