Have you ever been in conversation with someone and they mention a restaurant and you’ve not been to said restaurant and they hit you with a “whaaaaaaaaat?! You’ve never been to lalalalalal before? You will love it!” and then you feel silly for a second, and a little embarrassed that you haven’t been there… and you are a food writer and you’re supposed to know all about the place even though you don’t? No? That’s never happened to you? Well, as a food writer I can tell you that it happens to me… all the time. As cool as reviewing restaurants are, it comes with a great responsibility. So, what I’ve learned over the years is to fake it. Just say yes, you’ve been there and when they ask you what your favourite dish was you hit them with a, “ah, joh I haven’t been there in a while. I eat out a lot, so you know… I kinda forget half the stuff anyway.” And then after that happens I usually rush to go check the place out.
One of those places is Mezepoli in Melrose Arch. This restaurant is as Mediterranean as they come (if the Med was known for great sushi as well). Worth trying is the assortment of mushrooms grilled with rock salt and dressed with olive oil, lemon and fresh parsley. And it goes without saying, the crispy spanakopita filled with spinach and feta is on par with the street food you will find in Athens. What would a visit to a Greek and Turkish inspired restaurant be without diving face first into the salad section? The rocket and spinach salad is a leafy greens fanatic’s dream with its sundried tomato, chèvre, pine nuts and mustard balsamic vinaigrette.
The beef fillet is grilled to your liking (we all know that rare to medium is the only way to eat a steak). This cut comes in a 300g portion. Other tasty meat options include the lamb chops are three in a serving and seasoned with salt and oregano. The line fish is filleted and steamed in a foil parcel with spices, olive oil and lemon – just like they do in the Mediterranean. The drinks menu is in competition with the food for sure. Mezepoli is known for its wide selection of different wines. The one thing that stood out for me is that the eatery stocks Colmant brut. Now, those who know me (include the Colmant winery in Franschoek), know that I am obsessed with the brand. They truly serve the best MCC’s in the country… in my opinion anyway. With that said, Mezepoli does not serve Creation wines which is quite interesting as their whites go so well with chicken and fish dishes. Then again, we can’t all have what we want otherwise the bar would be over-stocked and the kitchen space used to stack crates of vino in to serve every second Tom, Dick, and Shawn. On the plus side, Mezepoli does stock a bottle or three of Warrick (which I had a positive rant about in one of my other reviews – such a beautiful wine). Other drinks include the usual lineup of cocktails and SAB provisions.
For dessert – when in Rome (or Athens) do as they Romans (or Atheneans) do – order the baklava without even thinking twice about it. Comprising fine layers of crushed nuts between phyllo pastry, and drenched in a lemon zest and cinnamon syrup it’s something fit for the gods. Just be warned that adding ice cream to the Baklava will cost you a couple of bucks extra. The grilled halva, apple slices, cinnamon and lemon also comes highly recommended.
Everything. No, no not really. Well, sort of. I implore you to try the linefish in foil under the meze section – it tastes as good as it looks. Besides the beef fillet as a meaty main, give the keftethes a go (because nobody makes meatballs quite like a Mediterranean mamma). For dessert, one thing that stood out for me – as typical of a menu item it may seem -, the tiramisù’s delicate balance of coffee liqueur and mascarpone custard sold the entire setup for me… in fact, Mezepoli can start up a side shop and just sell that and it will work.
All in all, Mezepoli gets a fat two thumbs up from me. It’s a great place and a beautiful space to relax, have a drink, and do some good old fashioned people watching – and we all know that Melrose Arch is the best place to do so.
By Shawn Greyling