Review: Mediterrano CafeAuthor: indianapoliseater | Filed under: Food Reviews, Location: Indianapolis, IN, Recommended: Independent
I’ve known that this place existed in Castleton for several years but never knew what it really was. It’s in a dreary strip mall and I figured it was just a dreary place, so I never really gave it any thought. My curiosity got the best of me one day as I was driving by and I decided to do a little internet research and much to my surprise, Mediterrano Cafe had some solid internet buzz (see Worth Your Attention’s review). I decided that was enough for me, so I had to give it a shot.
The thing that stinks about Mediterrano Cafe is that they are open on odd hours. For whatever reason, they’ve decided to bag dinner service and are now only open for lunch (11:00-3:00 on weekdays, 12:00-3:00 on Sundays), where they run a lunch buffet.
When you walk in here, it is pretty much no frills. It’s very clean, which is nice, but they didn’t take a lot of time to work on the ambiance with minimal artwork and paper tablecloths. Basically, it’s tables, chairs and a buffet line. You walk straight to the register, pay for your food and they give you a paper Pepsi cup, your utensils and turn you loose. All the food is hand-labeled with the Mediterranean name of the dish along with a very brief description of what each dish is made up of for those people that are unfamiliar with some things (like me).
What I Got: Lunch Buffet with Drink $14.00.
I’m not going to walk you through the buffet and give you a taste comparison of each item like I’ve done previously but I do have some pictures and I will highlight some of the menu options that they have available.
The buffet features a lot of meat dishes such as ground beef kabobs, chicken kabobs, gyros, lamb stew and several other pasta and food mixes combining meat and vegetables (I didn’t take the greatest notes and some of the names are names that I am not entirely familiar with).
In terms of the meat dishes, I would put specific highlights on the gyros meat (tender, flavorful and perfect), the ground beef kabobs (pictured above; oddly enticing as well and juicy and flavorful), the lamb stew (pictured in the bowl above; lamb was tender but the winner was the stew sauce which was both sweet and spicy at the same time; I’ve never tasted anything quite like it and actually was using it as a sauce on some other dishes), the spicy chicken (pictured below above and to the left of the pasta; not really spicy but very tender) and the apricot chicken (chicken wrapped in a leaf and cooked and steamed).
The buffet also includes falafels (not a fan), regular white basmati rice as well as a rice mixture that included lentils and cilantro. Other side dishes (cold) included traditional Greek salad (pictured below; loaded with feta cheese, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes), lentil salad (lentils mixed with onions and cilantro; that is it under the kabob above), cabbage salad, a parsley salad (pictured below; I would not recommend it), and some other mixed Mediterranean dishes (baba ghannouj, hummus, etc.).
In terms of bread-type things they had the typical pita bread for gyros (the pita bread seemed to be store bought and not fresh; it was the only real disappointment of the buffet). They also had something called Spanikopita (first picture at the very top of the plate). This was something new to me that was a mix of spinach and feta cheese in a crispy phyllo dough. All I can say about this is that I would eat it every day of the week for the rest of my life. Incredible.
To top it all off, the buffet also includes some vegetarian dishes (didn’t try any), a soup (didn’t try it) and also some dessert type items that included coconut cake and rice pudding. I’m not a huge fan of either coconut cake (or anything coconut) or rice pudding and eaten alone, I still wasn’t a big fan. When I mixed them together, I was a HUGE fan of the contrasting doughy blandness of the cake with the creamy sweetness of the rice pudding.
Would I Buy It Again? Yes, definitely. This really was an awesome array of tastes (the buffet was quite large) and nearly everything was delicious. I wouldn’t go often because $14 is a bit much to spend on just myself (yes, I’m frugal), but I would go a few times a year. Just an FYI, if you are going to go here, try to find a way to have somewhere nearby to lay down when you are done due to the fact that you are pretty much assured of walking out of Mediterrano Cafe being absolutely stuffed since you won’t be able to push yourself away from all these wonderful flavors and will end up overeating. I really don’t see how anyone could go here for lunch and then go back to work after that. It would take incredible self control and I know I wouldn’t be able to do it and thankfully I visited on a Sunday where I could go home and take a nap.
All in all, I’m so glad that my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give this place a shot despite the drab exterior. You can tell that the owners take real care and pride in putting out delicious food and they seem to have developed a regular clientele as well since the owners were interacting with the other customers as if they’ve known each other for years. Mediterrano Cafe is a hidden gem and I would recommend that everyone give this place a try. Chances are good that you will not regret it.