published Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe attracting big crowds for lunch

HOLLY LEBER: I’m always excited when new restaurants come to town, especially those that expand the culinary palate a bit. So when I saw that Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe was opening up on Market Street, I was especially happy.

On a Friday at noontime, Taziki’s was hopping; we were lucky to get a table. Customers wait in line to place orders, then are given a number to bring to their table. The service was friendly, if a bit befuddled. We had one person bring us an order that wasn’t ours, and then another question as to whether she had brought us the right order. However, it’s a new establishment, and it was lunch rush, so we’ll give them time to get their sea legs.

CLINT COOPER: The open loft seating above the first floor gave the restaurant a real cafe-like ambiance, but it may also have added to the din. It’s good for Taziki’s that it was packed the day we walked in, but it made conversation over lunch quite difficult.

I was not quite sure why there was a problem about what order went where because of the numbers patrons are given, but the glitches may be related to the restaurant’s short time since opening, as you mention, Holly.

HOLLY: I’m sure the service will only improve as they find their footing. It was nothing that threw the meal off terribly. Foodwise, I think I was a bit hit-or-miss in my ordering. In an attempt to sample as much as possible, I opted for the Mezedes Platter (described as hummus and taziki dips served with dolmades and pita) and a cup of Greek lemon chicken soup. The hummus and taziki were both very good. The hummus was flavorful without being overwhelmed by garlic. And the taziki had a very nice consistency, which was a relief as some places will make a rather watery taziki. The homemade pita chips with which they were served were very tasty, but I think the menu should have specified how the pitas were prepared. I was just expecting the bread.

The dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice and onions) were overly pungent and awkward to eat. If anyone knows of the proper way to consume this particular delicacy, please let me know. And as much as I like lemon, I was taken aback with each bite of the lemon chicken soup. There is something to be said about subtlety in flavor. What about you, Clint? How was your food?

CLINT: When we decided to go to Taziki’s, I figured they would surely have a Greek salad, and they do. In fact, they have six. You can get the salad alone, or you can get it with chicken, lamb, shrimp, tilapia or turkey. I chose chicken. As advertised, it was made with a nice selection of lettuces and was topped with several sliced tomatoes (they looked locally grown), cucumbers (maybe two, small), roasted red peppers (a nice touch), red onions (one tiny sliver), pepperoncinis (one), kalamata olives (two, tiny), fresh feta cheese (very little, though too much can overwhelm the salad) and an original Greek dressing (served in a plastic cup on the side).

I would have loved more cucumbers, red onions, pepperoncinis, olives and feta cheese, but I was pleasantly surprised by the chicken. Instead of dry, diced or sliced pieces that are often added to salads, Taziki’s chicken was marinated, tender and very tasty. It was the best part of the salad. My salad also was served with a couple of pita chips.

Although there is room for improvement to what I had, I am eager to try the restaurant again.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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bpqd said...

You pick up the grape leaves with your fingers and eat them. It is common for entire meals to be eaten by hand from communal bowls in that part of the world.

There's a good sampler platter over at Four Winds.

June 29, 2011 at 8:28 a.m.
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