What’s Good Here? Mediterranean Cafe in Lexington

Special to The StateMarch 6, 2013 

 

SPECIAL TO THE STATE — Deena C. Bouknight

  • The Mediterranean Café 327 West Main St. in Lexington

    PRICES: Appetizers do not exceed $9, while platters are in the $15 range, with the 16-18 ounce ribeye at the upper end of the price range at $30. There are pita wraps and sandwiches between $7.50 and $9.

    HOURS: Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday. Dinner is from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday, hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

    INFO: (803) 356-6294 or visit www.medcafelexsc.com.

What’s good here?

The restaurant the owners tout as a hybrid of Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian and American is known by Lexington locals for its authentic dishes as well as for its steaks — purchased from a local meat market and cooked to order. The eggplant appetizer is lightly fried fresh eggplant topped with jalapenos, garlic, and lemon sauce with parsley and tomatoes and served with pita bread. Some of the dishes are authentically Middle Eastern — made directly from the owners’ family recipes. They include hummus and falafel.

The garlic shrimp appetizer dish is truly Mediterranean: seasoned shrimp with garlic and jalapeno peppers, sautéed in olive oil. “We use a lot of olive oil, oregano, and fresh garlic,” says Azmi Jebali, who owns the Café with his wife, Beth. “We keep it simple and fresh. Most everything we serve I’ve hand-picked, and it’s all made to order.”

Fresh fish and shrimp from the Charleston area is delivered regularly. When available seasonally, much of the restaurant’s produce is purchased from Clayton Rawl Farms in Lexington. On the menu are chicken, seafood, vegetarian, pork and beef dishes, as well as pita wraps, sandwiches and salads. The Mediterranean Café also serves a selection of wine and beer. A featured dessert is baklava.

When did The Mediterranean Café open?

Ten years ago, Azmi Jebali, originally from Jerusalem, opened The Mediterranean Café in Lexington with his wife, Beth. Five years ago, it relocated from another location nearby to its current site next to the Comfort Suites on West Main Street. The existing building was renovated to coordinate with the contemporary appearance of the hotel. Family recipes are prevalent on the extensive menu.

What is the ambiance?

“I like to say it’s upscale, but not uptight,” says Azmi. The comfortable dining room seats 55, while the outdoor covered patio accommodates 20. In an upstairs banquet room, Azmi says there is seating for up to 40. The banquet room can be set up for a buffet or a sit-down dinner and can be reserved for rehearsal dinners, holiday parties, receptions, corporate and bridal luncheons, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations and other events. The Mediterranean Café also caters. The décor inside the restaurant matches the architecture on its exterior: somewhat contemporary. Unique, mounted lighting adorns the walls.

Who eats here?

“We have a lot of regulars,” says Azmi. “On Friday night, especially, we seem to get so many locals that people have called it the ‘Cheers’ of Lexington.” Because it is on Main Street, visibility is strong. Everyone from business executives to lunching moms to couples and families patronize the establishment. The hotel also generates traffic. He says it’s a great date night place as well.

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