The Sandwich Gal eats a fair share of so-so sandwiches. I usually do not post a review of a place unless I have something positive to say. I had a decidedly underwhelming episode at a much buzzed about Tampa restaurant on Saturday. Why do I mention that at all? The poor lunch date I had on that day made me much more appreciative of the fantastic experience I had at Meze 119 in St. Petersburg the next day.
Meze: An appetizer in Middle Eastern cuisine.
I had heard some positive things about Meze. The restaurant calls itself a Vegetarian Bistro that boasts Persian classics with a modern flair. They cater to vegetarians and vegans, but the main focus here is fresh and bold flavors. The small space offers cozy pillows, vibrant colors against a stark white backdrop, and a few tables outside that are perfect for people watching.
Our waiter was very busy, but also super quick, helpful, and friendly. He gave us ample time to study the menu, which was completely necessary. My great friend Lori (she of the adventurous palate, huge heart, and stupendous listening ears) enjoyed some biscuits and began our perusal.
Lori ordered the Shakshuka. Yeah, I said it. This tomato stew with onions and peppers had a braised egg on top and was served with Pita. The flavors were complex and hearty. I maybe snagged more than one bite.
The Meze Original is one of the all-time greatest vegetarian sandwiches. It sounds so simple: Falafel with Israeli salad and tahini. It was incredible. The falafel was the right size and texture, and the cabbage, cucumber, and tomato salad was the perfect complement.
Welcome to the land of gourmet vegetarian food. This, friends, is what no-meat dishes should taste like. Everything that went past my face this day looked and smelled like a meat-free dream.
After our meal, our bill was delivered in this journal. How fabulous is that? Even the bill, like everything else in this restaurant, has a little special extra touch. I cannot wait to go back, and sample every single item on their menu.