STRIKING STACKED STONE veneer treatments in natural brown hues along one wall and under the open bar are the decorative highlight of the modern, funky high-ceilinged room. Although no printed wine list exists, bottles of red and white on horizontal display behind Mid Eastro’s bar add visual interest, and a mounted television broadcasts strange recorded stills of colourful sunsets.
Mustard-coloured napkins pose over black linens on tables and banquettes; green plants line the entrance and windows and contribute a fresh feel to the otherwise dark, loungey space of dark woods and like-coloured tile floors. Everything — including the bathrooms — is spotless.
The menu of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern plates (mostly salads, fish and seafood, with a notable smattering of Italian classics such as minestrone soup and fettuccini alfredo) is hit and miss. Ingredients are fresh, but frequent substitutions (unannounced) throw us for loops from start to finish.
Warm slices of fresh-from-the-oven whole grain loaf line a dark wooden breadbasket, playing partner to a platter of balsamic puddled in olive oil; excellent nutty, chunky pesto; and average tapenade stretched thin by water instead of olive oil.
A cornucopia of deep-fried items make up the Moroccan platter ($10).
Two unexceptional vegetarian falafel dense with parsley rub shoulders with a pair of pastry-wrapped beef cigars, kubbe (bulgur enveloping ground beef and onion spiced with cumin and allspice), and two arancini (tomatoey deep-fried risotto balls pregnant with cheese).
A squirt more of lemon would have added balance to the nutty tahini dip, and a flash of green vegetable, even decorative, would have done visual wonders for the assembly.
A hefty serving of fresh, soft goat cheese explains the steep price tag of the warm portobello mixed green salad ($12), but where are the mixed greens and the portobellos? Instead, we are brought romaine and radicchio lettuces tossed in balsamic vinaigrette with a stir of warm cremini, porcini and button mushrooms.
A single sliced orange baby tomato adds colour.
1200 Highway 7 West
Dinner for two excluding tax, tip and alcohol:
The best catch arrives in the form of generous linguini seafood alfredo ($26). A simple white wine and tomato sauce lets the freshness and flavours shine of clams, mussels, bursting scallops and mammoth shrimps. Wonderfully al dente noodles twirl playfully on the fork. Our leftover slices from the breadbasket go to good use sopping up the remaining sauce.
Double-cut lamb chops ($32) are grilled slightly past the requested rare; appeasing the disappointment is the ginormous seven-boned serving. A lemon- and-thyme-dominated spice rub craves more intensity, but the balance of flavours is certainly on the right track.
Black olive slices dot the slightly dry stock-infused couscous; an arrangement of grilled veg — two long spears of zucchini and red and yellow pepper wedges — remain firm and flavourful. A dollop of cold, jam-like stewed apricot-tomato sauce shows the kitchen’s creativity and adds pep to each of the plate’s other elements.
Our server, one of two working the room, arrives with a smile each time. But with just three tables of diners on this night, we are surprised by the slow preparation of our order — especially since a nearby table of three, dressed to the nines, makes their way through three off-the- menu hot courses before our appetizers make an appearance.