Though there are other menus in town with similar offerings, the folks at Suri’s Mediterranean are primed to dominate with both savor and service. First off, the place is simple, cozy and inviting. Better still, the service is fast and friendly, welcoming almost to a fault.
A starting order of three stuffed grape leaves ($5) were firm yet easy to bite through, with a smooth texture and tons of herbal, nutty flavor. They were accompanied by shirazi salad—chopped cucumber, tomato, onion and herbs—tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, with a few dashes of salt and black pepper.
A bowl of lentil soup with rice ($4) was more subtle, but a dash of salt and pepper perked it right up. A plate of falafel ($4)—drizzled in tahini—was served on a bed of shredded red cabbage. Though a little dry—as falafel often is—the flavor and the crunch were quite nice. Adding a little more sauce did the trick.
Wraps ($8 each) include your choice of meat, falafel or veggie mix with lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, tahini and garlic sauce—all wrapped up tight in very thin pita bread. We sampled beef and chicken kebab along with lamb gyro. The well-seasoned ground beef and marinated chicken breast were both very good, but the lamb gyro was so good I think I may have besmirched the family name with my effusive reaction. The meat was outstanding. Combined with the sauces and veggies, it was something of a religious experience.
Platters (starting at $11) feature basmati rice topped with roasted potato bites, meat and tahini. We chose beef and chicken shawarma, hummus and pita, with garlic sauce on the side. I could have done without the rice, but the potatoes were fantastic. The hummus was a perfect balance of chickpea, tahini, lemon and garlic.
The garlic sauce turned out to be a form of toum. A traditional condiment of the Middle East, it’s often a simple mix of garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt and water. Think aioli but with more punch. Suri’s revealed itself to be Lebanese style, marrying those ingredients in an emulsion of egg white. The texture is kind of a soft meringue but with a buttery mouthfeel. It was pretty damn amazing and clearly the secret ingredient punching all our wraps over the top.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, an order of loaded fries ($10) joined the party. Hand-cut, peel-on, thin and crispy potatoes were topped with chicken shawarma, melted cheese and a drizzle of tahini. Words almost fail to express how wickedly good this combination is. It’s a devil of a dish, the very thing that could convince one to sell—or perhaps temporarily lease—his soul.
Espresso drinks are available hot or iced, but I recommend the hot Persian tea ($2). It is prepared by steeping loose-leaf black tea with dried rose petal, cinnamon stick, and whole cardamom pods. If you like tea, you’ll love this. We finished with a nice big scoop of housemade Persian ice cream ($3). It begins like any custard ice cream—with milk, eggs and sugar—then flavored with rose water, saffron, vanilla and finely chopped pistachios. It’s much more of an aromatic experience than flavorful, and—as my wife discovered—is not for everyone.