Published September 16, 2014
- What we think
- Mediterranean small courses, we have needed them
- Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean
- Laidback, authentic
- Could have explained the dishes better, but very hospitable
- Price for 2 (no drinks)
- 9000-10,000 ISK
When thinking of Mediterranean cuisine in Iceland, not much comes to mind save for the Italian restaurants that have for so long been a constant in the Reykjavík landscape. There have been few, if any, Greek restaurants for example, and hardly any specializing in North African food. The Turkish restaurant Meze, which opened its doors last January, is therefore a very welcome addition to the flora of restaurants in Reykjavík.
Meze is of course a synonym for “small courses” or “a taste.” I have long been fascinated by the ceremonial consumption of small courses of this kind—not least because of the fact that they are usually consumed along with an “aperitif” high in alcohol content. Meze is most common in Turkey and its neighbouring countries. The Balkans are fond of it and Israel and Lebanon are experts—as far as I know.
The menu at Meze is comprised of a selection of twelve small courses and six main courses, along with another four mains which really don’t seem to belong—they are more in the vein of Spanish or even Northern European cuisine.
My companion and I decided to order a selection of four small courses to share (2,890 ISK). Our selection included some very traditional meze courses: Baba ghanoush, hummus, börek and a tabbouleh salad. This was of course served with a delightful grilled flatbread and cacik yogurt sauce, essentially the Turkish version of tzatziki. The Baba ghanoush, a dip made from grilled eggplants, was tasty and of a very nice consistency. It could have done with a touch more seasoning. The hummus, however, was nicely seasoned, and it was flavourful without an overwhelming taste of garlic or tahini. It was just right. The tabbouleh, a bulgur salad with tomatoes, onions and parsley, was lacking what I would consider its most essential ingredient, which is mint. The böreks were very nice. Spinach and kasar (Turkish feta) wrapped in filo pastry and baked to a crispy perfection. Salty and delicious. The flatbread, essential to enjoy the dips, was full of flavour with a crispy crust. Bread is of course not taken lightly in Turkey—just like everywhere else in the Mediterranean, if there is no bread, it’s not a meal.
For our main courses my companion chose a veggie moussaka (2,600 ISK) and I decided to have a traditional lamb shish kebab (3,300 ISK). The moussaka was actually a bit bland. It could have done with some salt and was really missing those earthy spices you would usually associate with the dish, namely cinnamon and/or nutmeg. The shish kebab was, however, very nice. The meat was grilled to a tender perfection and the marinade really came through in every bite. It was quite light for a meat dish and with an assortment of grilled vegetables, salad and onions, it was a flavourful meal.
My companion and I were quite pleased with our visit. We did, however, agree that the main courses were a bit pricey. If I were to go again I would stick to the small courses, as the name of the place suggests is their forte. It should be pointed out, at this time, that Meze offers happy hour prices between 16:00 and 19:00 every night. This is recommended, as the small courses are perfect to start the night with a nice glass of wine. People seem to appreciate the place in any case, as it was really packed, and on a Monday night no less. We did find out, though, that the guests were all Turkish television personnel who had arrived to cover a soccer match between Iceland and Turkey. Well, if the Turkish people give Meze their thumbs up… so will I.