BY MIKE PUCKETT
Meze Greek Fusion in the Gaslamp is located on the corner of 6th and J. I had gone there for lunch before and found it really tasty. So, when a friend of mine suggested we go there for dinner, I was ready to give it a go. I met up with him on a Monday night. It turned out not to be a normal Monday night.
Oh no, this was much more than your average Monday night! When we arrived, the first things I noticed were the bright colors, soft lights and warm atmosphere, which gives Meze a very inviting feel. The whole dining area is surrounded by windows, which add a nice touch and adds to its super chic look. As an added bonus, you get a great view of downtown and passers-by. We sat down next to a window and let our server know about our love for local craft beers, She offered up some great advice about their Greek craft beers. I took that advice and was very glad I did!
We tried four different types of beer: the Santorini Crazy Donkey (an IPA), Mythos (a Greek-style lager), Keo (a lager) and Almaza (a Pilsner). I enjoyed them all, but REALLY loved the Crazy Donkey IPA and the Mythos. I suggest you speak with your server and let her pick for you. It worked for us.
With our beers, we were served fresh pita bread and a number of dips including: Tzatziki (a yogurt and cucumber dip with garlic, dill, and mint), Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus (chick peas, garlic, tahini, and cilantro with a touch of jalepeno chile to spice it up a bit), Fiery Feta Dip (Feta cheese, roasted red peppers, olive oil and garlic), Baba Ghanoush (grilled eggplant mixed with tahini, garlic and lemon juice). You know I like it a little spicy, so I had two favorites: the Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus opened up and The Fiery Feta Dip dropped the mic.
At this point, I was thinking about how much I was enjoying this journey through the Mediterranean. I have to admit that it wouldn’t have been the same without our sweet and informative guide, Carrie, at the reins. Whenever she noticed us veering off in the wrong direction, she quickly pulled us back into the lane. Carrie, I thank you for that!
Next, we sampled the Shrimp & Ouzo Saganaki and Fiery Feta Mac’n Cheese. Nothing goes better with Greek craft beers than shrimp and Mac’n Cheese. We were served three jumbo shrimp, skillet-seared with garlic, tomatoes and fresh lemon juice. Having grown up on the Gulf of Mexico, I am a true fan of shrimp in just about every way possible (Insert Bubba Gump impersonation here). I am now a true fan of one more way… The Meze way. Take a look at the picture and you’ll see exactly what I mean. The Fiery Feta Mac’n Cheese is a delightful mixture of three cheeses (Meze’s signature Fiery Feta, Cheddar and Kasseri Cheese) and Greek Sausage combined with Penne pasta, then topped with Pita Crumbs and baked. The flavor of the Spicy Feta explodes with the warm cheese and robust sausage. This dish is a meal in itself! I promise you that there was not a single bite left within 5 minutes of it safely landing on the table, it is that good! Do not make a mistake and forget to order it!
With our entrees, we were guided towards the Atlantis, a red, full-bodied wine with fine tannins, complex aromas of red fruit, and hints of prune and leather. A very nice red which complimented our Filet Mignon Kabob; tender marinated and grilled filet mignon cubes served with Tzatziki sauce and Basmati rice. Words are not enough to describe the mouth-watering flavors. The Chicken Kabob came next and was served with Basmati rice as well. Divine.
For dessert, we had an adult starter which consisted of Ouzo. If you’ve never tasted Ouzo, know that it can be an acquired taste due to its strong, licorice flavor which has been known to turn some people off. However, we enjoyed it chilled and this gave it a much smoother and unique flavor than I had experienced previously. Our dessert of Loukoumades (crispy dough balls tossed in Greek honey, cinnamon and walnuts and served with ice cream) was simple, but delicious. And when in Rome right? We ordered a Hookah and another Ouzo, then made our way to the patio where we watched the rest of the Monday Night Football game. It kind of brought me back to America for a second. And then the Hookah & Ouzo took me right back to one of my favorite places in the world. Opa!
PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE PUCKETT
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