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Med Grill & Bar

This past weekend the Davie street neighbourhood was introduced to a new Mediterranean restaurant, primary focusing on Greek flavours and influences. Brought to the city by the same owners of Gastronomy, Gastown’s traditional Italian restaurant with modern interpretations of classics dish. And Med Grill appears to take a page from the same book.

We were invited to their friend’s and family preview party, 3 days prior to their weekend opening. So take the following with a grain of salt, as this was their first official dry run and the kitchen staff, as well as the front of house team were still working out the logistics of it all.

The location is hard to miss, as the restaurant is fully dressed in the traditional blue and whites of the Greek flag. Not to mention the Grecian statues that grace the exterior entrance, as if on guard. Each figure spray painted in a kaleidoscope of neon colours. Classical art meets pop art, old meets new; once again, following on the same vein as their menu.

Inside, the theme continues on with more white painted walls, bold blue upholstered individual seats and group booths; plus more pop art statues on display, along side a collage of marble statues papered on the wall.

Tonight’s service was set with predetermined dishes, served family style for table of four. So once again, keep in mind what you see pictured here might not be what you get, if and when you order for dine in. In fact, majority of the servings will probably be more fulsome, as were presented with smaller portions in order to be able to try as much as we could.

But first drinks. I liked how each cocktail and mocktail was named after a god with its ingredients and hue taken into consideration.

The Aphrodite was cazadores, raspberry sourpuss, pomegranate & raspberry tea, syrup, lime juice, ginger ale, and mint leaves. This was berry sparkler. Easy and approachable, much like how I imagine the goddess of love to be.

The Zeus had Bombay gin, apricot liqueur, lemon juice, plum syrup, bay leaves, Greek, yogurt, and soda. Thanks to the yogurt, the cocktail drank thick. It had a creamy tang to it, which reminded me of Yakult, the Japanese sweeten probiotic milk. I didn’t get any of the aforementioned fruit or herbal flavours, just the yogurt with a fizzy carbonated finish.

The Poseidon had a mix of blue curacao, Malibu, lemon juice, pineapple, juice, egg whites, saline, and orange bitters. This was a tropical mix that was coconut-forward and tropical. And like the Aphrodite above, I was drawn in by colour, much like the graffiti spray paint that surrounded us.

Their non-alcoholic concoctions were also given the godly treatment. Hera’s Secret had rose syrup, lemon juice, pear juice, soda, water, and a thyme sprig. It was light and more like flavoured sparkling water than juice.

Overall, the drinks were fun and easy going. But I could have used more garnishes and more pageantry to better flow with the set up you expect from such flamboyant decor.

As for food, to start with our table shared a bowl of warm olives. An assortment of colours and types marinaded in olive oil, garlic, chili, rosemary, thyme, and citrus. The black olives were soft and mild on the brine. The red ones were hard and salty. And the large green ones were my favourite, being the middle ground for firmness and being not as briny.

Next, we had a collection of all their dips presented in smaller servings with a mountain of pita wedges. The pita was dusted with za’atar, a Middle Eastern herb similar to oregano and thyme. You couldn’t really make it out past all the frequent dips especially the Taramosalata below.

Taramosalata is a traditional Greek dip made with salted mullet roe, potato, eggs, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. I have never had anything like this, let alone knew it was Greek in origin. Given that the main ingredient of the dip is naturally salty and fishy, it is not for everyone. I found a comparable to the distinct flavour of vinegary sardines, but with the pop of briny fish roe at the forefront. As a whole, I did enjoy the dip in conjunction with all the others. However, alone as the sole dip with all this pita, it may be a little too pungent.

The Hummus was a lot more familiar. A vegan dip of chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, garlic confit, lemon juice, and cumin. The addition of chimichurri topping it gave it more presence with the likes of paprika, mint, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, and red wine vinegar. This had a great full bodied texture and was exactly what we thought hummus should be.

Similarly, the Baba Ganoush delivered. Another vegan dip made with roasted eggplant, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, confit, and salt. A soften yet chunky mashed chew. This had a nice opposing texture to the chewy, toasted pita.

Another Greek dip staple we could not leave without trying is their Tzatziki. Made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, mint, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper. This is of the tangier rendition of this popular and refreshing dip. A little much as is, but was great at tempering all the bold and savoury dishes to come, especially with the corn dogs below.

The Merguez corn dogs were like mini corn dogs, but instead of being stuffed with regular wieners, Med Grill’s version featured spicy lamb sausage from Two Rivers. These sausages were battered in their own homemade corn dog batter and the finished product was served with a herb mustard aioli. There was so much herbs and flavour thanks to the juicy and zesty lamb that I found the mustard in direct combat. I would instead suggest the tzatziki to help temper and add a cooling effect to balance out the spicy dog centre.

But for the best pallet fresher and a dish to help cleanse in between more vibrant bites, look to their Med Grill Tabbouleh. Not your typical Tabouleh, this ate more like a fresh salad with bulgar wheat, red onion, Italian parsley, tomato, pomegranate seeds, mint, fresh kale and kale chip, red cabbage, and toasted pistachio; all dressed in a pomegranate molasses. This was a great medley of textures and tastes. I am not big on salads, but would gladly order this one again.

Similarly Mex Grill put their own spin on the classic Greek Salad, claiming that their’s was “a good one”. It comes with a lot more than the 4-5 ingredients it normally does. Red & yellow peppers, pickled red onions, gem tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, cucumber, feta, fresh oregano, dill, basil, and mint; all coated and a lemon dressing. As exciting as this version sounds, in truth, I like the classic rendition more. A more simple mix of cucumber, tomato, red onion, feta, and olive oil Greek salad. As such it is a staple and serves as a great side to more focal flavours. In this case we had the Med Grill Greek salad as a side to their chicken Shawarma plate and it fought for attention with the protein main.

Available in either chicken or lamb the Shawarma plate comes with the Greek salad and tzatziki mentioned above, lemon potatoes, and pita. With all the other dishes before and after, this one seemed lacklustre. There is less of an emphasis on presentation here, having the chicken chopped up and looking sloppy. It all tasted good, but you wouldn’t necessarily feel like you got your moneys worth. This is what you would expect from the food court, visually. Instead, I would include rice have the salad chopped chunky, and serve the chicken and pita as a whole; for a more fulsome plate, and something more in line with an entrée that you would expect from a Greek restaurant.

The Calamari is all their own as well. Battered and fried crispy, served with tzatziki and chimichurri. Garnished with diced red onions, fresh dill, and smoked paprika. I liked the seasoning, but it was not enough to mask the fact that you tasted more of the batter than the squid itself. Although what I did make out was plenty tender, I just would’ve liked it left in larger chunks or rings so you could sink your teeth into it.

The prettiest plate of the night goes to the Tuna Carpaccio. Seared rare ahi tuna with a Greek yoghurt vinaigrette. Topped with dill oil, fresh dill, pickled jalapeño, puffed wild rice, smoked castelvetrano olives, sumac, and watermelon radish. This isn’t like the Japanese style tuna tataki, where the fish just as raw, but presented as the star of the plate, and the seasonings are barely there. Here, the tuna carpaccio served as the base to the collection of bold flavours and unmistakeable textures. As a whole the plate was overly pickled and briny, thus making it an ideal starter to help open up the appetite.

My favourite dish of the night, and the one I recommend is the Cavatelli Pasta. This is Med Grill’s play on Mousakka. Cavatelli pasta, roasted egg plant, lamb and beef ragu, shoe string potato chips, and a Parmesan potato cream. The familiar and comforting flavour of a red sauce, meaty ragu wrapped around the enjoyable texture of these little gummy pasta pellets. A cross between regular pasta noodles and gnocchi. The finisher was the crispy strings of deep fried potato that added a nice crunch atop of it all.

If you’re looking for something learner, lean towards their Grilled steelhead with asparagus, a tomato and herb salad tossed with lemon dressing, and saffron scented rice. The vegetables were perfectly cooked firm and crispy. And the sweetness from the cherry tomatoes accented the tender fish nicely. However, other than that this was nothing unique to the restaurant, and not something that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

And for dessert they currently have 3 options, we had both cakes and missed out on the ice cream. The first was a flourless chocolate cake that is gluten-free. It is dressed with caramelized white chocolate, raspberry conserva, and an amore creme anglaise. The cake itself was incredibly dense. Digging in it felt like a solid loaf where a brownie and fudge were combined. Great for the chocolate lovers who like it dark and bitter.

If you can only have one, I suggest the Baklava cheesecake for dessert. This one is special and unique onto Med Grill with phyllo pastry, walnut & pistachio, orange syrup, pomegranate molasses, and whipped cream. This was a fresh take with a nutty conclusion. A cohesive combination of both name sake desserts, where the cheese pairs well with the nuts and the cream offers moisture.

In summary, this was a nice sneak peek look at this new restaurant. But in truth, we didn’t get the proper experience for a more realistic account. And if given the opportunity to order à la carte my review we would be different. I would have opted for more traditional Greek dishes, like spanakopita and lamb chops. As well as their more creative ones like the saganaki cheese sliders with their dirty fries. But I digress, as I guess that is more reason to revisit. Revisit after they have better flushed out their menu and perfected the service. But for now Med Grill is a great modern Greek option to rival the classic competition in the area.

Med Grill & Bar
1157 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1N2

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