Monday, June 10, 2019

Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe


This may be the closest restaurant to my house so when I saw it open, I knew I had to give it a try. I was disappointed a bit that it is a chain, but at least it has a unique cuisine for fast casual dining—Mediterranean food. It’s one of those places where you order your food at the register and they bring it out to you. They menu is pretty big and they are proud to tell where different ingredients come from and try to offer several healthy options. 

We started with the appetizer of whipped feta ($5.99) blended with spices, topped with honey and served with pita on the side. You can get soft pita or baked crunchy pita or a mix of both—which is what we got. This was delicious. I was impressed. Hubby and I had had a similar dish at a restaurant in Nashville and loved it—this was very similar and very good. The feta is creamy and tangy but flavored with some herbs and spices and the sweet honey takes the edge off the feta. I was undecided whether I preferred the soft pita or the crunchy pita—both were very good. The soft pita was basic, but good and the crunchy baked pita had more seasoning on it and was more like a cracker. I just ate some of both. If I had to choose, I would probably go crunchy, but I really liked having some of each.

My daughter ordered the grilled chicken basil-pesto chicken gyro ($9.99). This was very tasty—it was strips of very tender seasoned chicken with pesto, tomatoes and feta inside a wrap. I was impressed with all the dishes as to how tender the chicken all was. Not sure how they keep it so tender, but it was great. Kind of like a Greek burrito. Nearly all the dishes come with chips and a choice of a second side. My daughter got the rice—which looked kind of bland to me, but she said it was good (I didn’t try it). 

My mother-in-law had the weekend special that was a pasta dish—“Taziki’s signature pasta” ($8.99). So there is a bed of lettuce on the bottom and penne pasta and chicken on top that has been tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. The pasta then has chopped tomatoes, feta and fresh basil on top. Again, I was impressed with how tender the chunks of chicken were. And I really liked the balsamic flavor for “sauce.” It was unique and I like the acid. Add tomato and feta and it was a tasty dish. Enough for two people, but good. She ordered a side of the tomato-cucumber salad which was nice too and could be a good garnish for the sandwiches—it was nicely marinated and had some onions in there too. 

I ordered the grilled chicken roll-up ($7.99) which is a flour tortilla filled with chicken, tomato and feta and then grilled so the tortilla is crisp. The little rolls are served with fresh salsa. You really need the salsa with this—otherwise the dish is a little boring. I sort of wished for a bit more of the tomato and cheese—and maybe some taziki sauce as well, although the salsa was very tasty. It just needed a little more, even though again, the chicken was nice and tender. I had the fruit as my side, and I will pass on this in the future—it was a little too melon heavy for me.

I would certainly order that feta dip again and would like to try their hummus and taziki as well. I wish they had a combo plate of the dips—they also have a pimento cheese. I would be nice to try them all. I couldn’t even get them to sell me a small side of taziki to go with my lunch. She only would sell me an entire other appetizer size, which we didn’t need. Offering small sides might be a good idea. 

My daughter also got some of the dark chocolate cake ($2.79). She always gets desserts, especially if there is chocolate cake. I have to say, we agreed this was the weakest thing we ate. It just had a weird taste that we didn’t care for. 

But overall, even though it is a chain, and given its proximity to our home, it will likely become a fairly regular stop. I like the unique flavors for a fast-casual place. And that you could get something fairly healthy but still with some flavor. They also offer full dinners for 4 to carry out which might be something we try as well. And they have beer and wine. Not a huge selection, but some local beers and a couple of wine choices. 

If you have been, what were your thoughts?

Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe 
4025 E. 82nd Street
Indy. 46250
317/315-1125

Monday, June 3, 2019

U.S. Adventures: Austin


A few weeks ago, we made a super quick trip to Austin to see some good friends and see a concert. Of course there was food mixed in, and here’s where we went (yes, that’s right, there is no barbecue in this post, get over it). 

We ate dinner at a hip place called the Odd Duck. It’s a shared plate/tapas type place with a very energetic atmosphere and a super eclectic menu. Probably my favorite dish of the night was the redfish ceviche ($14). It had a great lime flavor and had cilantro, olives (yum!) and carrot curry. Very interesting flavors—lots of acid. They recommended we just mix it all together, including the chips and we did. It was delicious. Oh, and you gotta love the Paloma drink here ($10). The drink itself was super good with tequila, aperol, grapefruit, tarragon and ginger—but the coolest thing was instead of a salt rim, they put a salt foam on top. You got a little bit with each sip, but it was a soft texture instead of the crunhy salt—it was much milder and softer taste too. It was really good. 

Next we had the seeded homemade pretzel sticks stuck into broccoli queso ($8). Also, totally delicious. Think of a really good soft pretzel in a really thick rich broccoli cheddar soup. Really a kind of genius idea if you think about it. So much better than the generic nacho cheese and more interesting than beer cheese.

We also had the antelope tataki ($12) with leek aioli, cabbage, sesame and rosemary crackers. Also really good—I am pretty sure I have never had antelope tataki before and it was tender and flavorful. The aioli added a nice brightness to the dish.  The basic bread plate ($7) here was also really tasty—local sourdough bread with cultured butter and flaky sea salt. It was simple, but really good as well. And a nice addition to dishes that weren’t particularly carb heavy.

We had some Asian style goat nuggets that were on special as well. They had a great, slightly spicy, slightly sweet flavor. The texture of the meat varied, some pieces a bit chewy—but when you got a good one, it was pretty tasty. Even if one of our friends seemed disturbed about eating goat. There was also a pasta dish ($19) that has a goat chili on it as well as goat feta, cilantro and radish. The noodles were thick and eggy and the toppings gave a unique flavor for a pasta dish. Lots of goat on this menu.

Dessert was tasty too—it was like a deconstructed chocolate cake—hunks of cake with sweet potato caramel pudding and orange marmalade. The chunks of torn cake were really good—super fudgy tasting. And I ended up liking the sweet potato with it more than I thought. Especially the crisp chips on top. Overall, I think I prefer sweet potato in a dessert it seems.

Odd Duck is a unique place—really trendy and lots of good bites and flavors. Certainly some better than others, but worth checking out. 
At my insistence, we also went back to Home Slice Pizza. Last time we waited nearly 2 hours to get seated so we went early, not knowing what to expect. It turns out on Easter (the day we were there), it is not crowded at all. We sat outside and ordered some knots ($4.50 for 4) (a lot of them actually because our friends’ kids love them). They are good, but they are not the reason I go—to me they are just pizza dough in a knot served with marinara. Not much luring me in here—give me some garlic butter any day.

The pizza though, the pizza is amazing (around $20-25 for a large depending on toppings). It’s New York style and is really, really good. Super thin but with just the right amount of toppings so it doesn’t fall apart when you are eating it. And they literally put the perfect amount of toppings on it in my opinion and sauce—not so much that it makes the crust mushy. Love this pizza and wish we had one near us. Brozinni is our closest place serving great New York style pizza for me, and it’s nearly in Greenwood, which is a pretty long trek for me.

All in all, it was s super quick trip, but as always, we ate well (and don’t worry hubby was there longer than me and had some barbecue too).

Odd Duck
1201 S. Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
512/433-6521

Home Slice Pizza
501 E. 53rd Street
Austin, TX 78751
512/707-7437