Sonntag, 15. Dezember 2013

In the garden of delicacies: Eating without measure at MESA

I am very selective when it comes to eating out, looking especially for completely new, interesting places, serving food that I love and with relatively well known ingredients. Such a combination is not always possible. As I miss too much the sun and the view of the sea and I am relatively done with the Thai/Oriental food - till the new discovery - the Lebanese/Middle Eastern food is calling me. In the last weeks, I extensively explored my Charlottenburg area, amazed to discover so many new places, among which a small door leading to a Lebanese restaurant. As it is open only from 4pm - except the Sundays when it is closed - I needed to return weeks after, and what a great discovery I made! It's name is MESA, a word that means entrées. In the Middle East, you may be served a huge plate with small plates that you can test individually or mix all together. 
The restaurant is situated underground. From your table, in the middle of old chess boxes hanging on the wall, one can see the people coming and going. Except the obsessive carols playing over and over again, and some seasonal kitsch glittering near interesting old advertising, the ambiance is pleasant. And the service is very fast and ready to help the lost European.
It must not be exactly how things should be at a typical meal, but I cannot resist to start by ordering a Mocca, well seasoned with cardamom. I love coffee, and I drink it without sugar. This gracious cup had exactly the amount of sugar that makes the coffee delicious. So bad it cannot be kept warm for a longer time!
I decided to make an atypical choice again, and I ordered the wine without connection with what I was about to eat later: a Ksara red wine. Moderately flavoured, strong, but without giving any headache hence natural, simple but with a specific personality. With a glass of water, it can last for hours.
Here comes the first order: a delicious labneh, very creamy with extra mint, fresh olive oil and an olive in the middle, Lebanese pita - which I am not a big fan of - and kabis - something I wanted to test without being aware what it is: several sour pickles, that can go together for a while with the labneh. Despite my serious Hungarian roots, I am not a fan of pickles, but out of curiosity and ready to change my life, I did taste more than I would have done a couple of years ago. Good, but not something to kill for.
The main dish left me breathless and too full to move too much for a while, because of the fine texture of the tehina sauce, with cumin and Cayenne pepper, the delicious French fries, and the fried pieces of salmon. Not too oily, not too salty, a combination of tastes matching and completing each other. The fresh side salad: lemon, some mint, carrots and lettuce balanced the tehina. My gustatory papillae were very happy. The only problem was the wine. The white one was more recommended.
Full but not ready to go yet. I am a serious blogger and how can I leave the restaurant without tasting the desert? But I wanted something lighter, despite my secret wish for a baklava - it will be a next time, don't worry mind and body - so I asked what can continue my eating party. I was recommended a combination of vanilla ice cream with small pieces of almond, and whipped cream plus some hot stuffed dates with peanuts. I had on my plate three different levels of temperature: from the very hot dates - how I did not know about such pleasures before - to the placid whipped cream and the very cold vanilla. Surprisingly enough, I ate faster than usual and with an equally unusual appetite. 
The prices are also acceptable, but somehow, with so many good choices, it's worth working some extra hours the month for enjoying once in a while real good Middle Eastern food. As the menu is not only good looking and colourful, but also with many good recommendations, I am ready to go back soon for a new tasting experience.

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