Monday, August 4, 2008

Lunch at Mez in Durham

Had lunch at Mez in Durham today. Thought I’d share the experience.  A friend had recommended we stick to the apps/small plates on the menu as the entrées still need work, so we figured it was a perfect lunch opportunity.  

If you have visited 518 West in Raleigh, the restaurant immediately makes you think of the same design. It’s the same owners, and the decor was pretty straight forward. It’s “nice.” Sort of chain looking, clean with straight lines and a carpeted dining room. There is a water wall with small pool in the back which was great entertainment for our baby.

We started with their margaritas. Fresh squeezed lime juice and made to order, they were very good. My only issue was the coarse Kosher salt on the rim that fell to the bottom, didn't dissolve and made the finish of the Margarita very salty. I couldn’t get to those last few drips of melting ice/watery margarita flavor as the drink came to an end. The wine list was not worth going into until that is greatly improved on.

The same friend recommended the guacamole. It was fine guacamole made from avocado, tomato, lime juice, etc, but nothing you haven’t had before. The chips were house made and very crispy, thin, warm and well salted. They had a great crunch and were not oily.

The next appetizer was the goat cheese/corn empañada with poblano rajas . It was very crisp and comprised of a half moon shape deep fried dough. Not like something I have had in Argentina, but very good with the tomatillo sauce beneath, these should be called Empañada Style perhaps. The slaw with a hint of fresh mint on the side was excellent. There were three half moons to an order. I’d order this again.

Next up carne asada soft tacos. These were a hit. The tortilla appeared to be hand pressed as it was doughy, soft and uneven in thickness. The meat inside was outstanding with great grilled and smokey flavors highlighted by chipotle. They were topped with fresh guacamole and very juicy with onions and tomatoes as well. Our portion had three tacos and my wife, who eats very little meat, fought me for the third taco.

We also had a child’s cheese quesadilla for our 14 month old. It was cheese and flour tortilla and she liked it. Our server said when we come back we have to try the Beef Brisket Vaquero, it was her favorite along with the Tilapia fish tacos.

Overall, a good lunch, not cheap but we went to “dine.” I’d go back, but not in a hurry to go soon. They are located just off Rt 40 on Page Road. Take a right at the end of the ramp and go to the top of the hill, on the right. Probably a good place to bring family for dinner out when those visiting are not necessarily foodies, but you don’t want to go to a chain.

Total for the meal with out tip: $54.74 -Salamanzar

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