Cassie and I were out in the Delmar area to see a man about some cheese, and we were really looking forward to lunch at Manama Grille (180 Delaware Ave). As it turns out, Manama Grille is closed during lunch on Saturdays.
Something right next door caught our eye though.
There’s a new cafe right next door, and the menu oddly reminded us of Manama. That and the promise of a free cup of coffee on the house drew us inside (even though I don’t think either of us even wanted coffee!).
The menu consists of a wide variety of salads, wraps, and paninis, and, while the American palate is definitely represented, there are quite a few Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influenced items like falafel, hummus, and couscous featured in their items.
When we entered, other than the two customers, there was one older gentleman behind the counter. As it turns out, he is the owner, and he proudly also claimed ownership of Manama Grille and the Shalimar restaurant in the same plaza. That certainly reinforced the warm-and-fuzzy feeling. So did seeing a sign showing that my favorite cheesecakes (from Cheesecake Machismo) are available there.
The house “Dilmun Salad” ($7.99 – crisp romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese tossed with light olive oil balsamic dressing) sounded just about perfect. I asked to substitute my dressing with tahini yogurt (although the zatar infused olive oil dressing also sounded amazing), and I added chicken for a buck.
First off, the overall value of the whole thing was outstanding. The salad was was served in a huge bowl. It was heaping and had a healthy amount of all of the toppings. The amount of chicken given to me for a measly $1 upcharge was unreal; there was at least 6 oz of chicken on top.
The chicken was moist and very flavorful. It actually tasted a lot like the chicken labne I had at Manama Grille, and that wasn’t much of a surprise. The tahini yogurt was really awesome. I loved the rich creaminess and slight tang; the bite of fresh garlic was a nice touch, too. What really put this whole thing over the edge was the dusting of sumac atop everything. I was beyond pleased with the whole thing.
Cassie had a falafel wrap which was pressed on a griddle for a short period of time. She was speaking very highly of her experience.
As promised, there was a station with coffee on the house, and, although the owner enticed me to have some, I stuck with my bottle of Pellegrino. The allure of free coffee, free wifi, and a warm, quiet atmosphere is perfect for someone who’s looking for a casual place to hang out and get some light computer work or reading done. Of course, awesome food definitely helps.