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I’m not a Mediterranean food expert, but when I heard a new Mediterranean restaurant was opening up right here in Mt. Pleasant, I knew I had to check it out.
The space is smaller than it looks from the outside, but what they did with it gets my approval. There isn’t much seating, but that’s mainly due to the small space they have to operate. The inside of the restaurant gives off a big-city tavern vibe, even though they don’t serve alcohol. A nice stone-tiled bar seating area and three flat screen televisions help add to the Americanized tavern feel.
It is evident that Tazeh is a new establishment after eating there because there are a few things they don’t quite have figured out.
First of all, they only had one set of salt and pepper shakers for the entire restaurant. This obviously led to a few conflicts while I was eating.
Another thing was that they served pop in cans rather than fountain pop. This could just be due to the fact that they are a new establishment and haven’t been able to get the equipment yet, but there aren’t many people that prefer canned pop to fountain pop. They brew lime-lemonade daily, so that was the drink I chose. It was by far the best I had there.
The biggest thing I noticed about the menu was the absence of lamb, which is considered by most to be a staple in Mediterranean food. I ended up going with a grilled ground beef stuffed “pocket” that also contained lettuce, tomato and garlic dressing. Tazeh’s meals come with a “start-up,” and I went with the Mediterranean inspired salad.
In my mind, the logical choice is that one would want to hire experienced waiters and waitresses when opening a new restaurant. Apparently Tazeh decided to go with less-experienced people. My experience made me think that they hired the first four people that applied. The service was slow and unprofessional.
When the food finally arrived, it was presented in a way that looked good—if only the taste met the expectations. The meat in my “pocket” was seasoned and grilled to perfection, but the taste of the veggies did not compliment the meat in a good way. The veggies were very cold—as though they had just been taken out of the freezer, which added to the unpleasant experience.
The side salad was another minor bright spot in an otherwise dark lunch. It doesn’t bring up the overall rating of the experience too much however, because it was just iceberg lettuce and diced tomatoes covered in oil and lemon juice.
Overall, my experience at Tazeh was not a positive one. The service was very poor, the food fell far below average and the time I spent waiting on my food while I watched others order, get their food, eat and leave before I even got mine added to the frustration.
As previously mentioned, the lime-lemonade was very refreshing, the meat was seasoned well, and the space was set up nicely, so Tazeh definitely has potential.
Since the negatives outweighed the positives, but taking into consideration the possible potential the place holds, I give Tazeh 2 out of 5 stars.
Tazeh’s Mediterranean Restaurant is the kind of restaurant you want to like. In a city like Mt. Pleasant, a college town invaded by the Applebee’s/IHOP epidemic, a non-chain that offers something different should be a blessing. Unfortunately, Tazeh’s didn’t live up to my expectations.
To be fair, the food is not terrible and the layout of the restaurant is above average. Tazeh’s main sin may be its mediocrity. As the sole Mediterranean offering in the area, it should be more divisive, that is, it should target people who love Mediterranean food and not try to be for everyone. The restaurant is small enough that I think that strategy would work. Instead, it seams to pander to an Americanized expectation of Mediterranean, which offers foreign names on a menu but not exotic flavor.
All entrees can be served in either a “Pocket” (a wrap) or over a bed of rice with vegetables. I ordered a Marinated Steak Kebob as a wrap, and chose hummus as my side (though many other options are available). The meat was by far the most flavorful part of the meal, though this could be because there was little to no dressing to counteract it. Tucked inside the wrap with the meat and dressing was lettuce and onions (I excluded the tomatoes).
I was looking forward to the hummus as a side because it’s the Mediterranean dish that I have the most experience with. Unfortunately, it was bland to the point of almost being generic paste.
Not sure if it’s just a case of “Opening Week Syndrome,” but the food was far below the bar.
Thankfully, Tazeh’s has a perfect dining atmosphere. When you walk in, you feel like you’re discovering a secret, though it was almost crowded. It’s small enough to feel local, but not so small that it awkwardly encourages you to get your food to go. The dark maroon tint is both a homage to CMU’s school colors and a wise aesthetic choice.
If I had it to do over again, which I may in a couple months to see if the food has improved, I may sit at the welcoming bar area. The people there seemed to get their food much quicker. The service was quite uneven, though it seemed to largely be because the bar was closer to the kitchen.
As a whole, my initial experience with Tazeh’s is one of disappointment. The atmosphere promises things that the kitchen doesn’t deliver. If they indeed get the kitchen up to par with the rest of the establishment, I’d be happy to sing their praises in the future. Until then, it remains Mt. Pleasant’s one and only Meh-diterranean restaurant.
On a 5 star scale, I give Tazeh’s Mediterranean Restaurant 2/5 stars.
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