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Review Sat Jan 16 2010

Mezé opens in the West Loop

meze-redpeppers.jpgMezé is a new small-plate restaurant serving up an eclectic group of dishes inspired by cuisines from the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Asia, and the Americas. At first glance, I was worried that the menu was too eclectic, too many different styles - but it's the eclectic nature of Mezé that gives it it's charm. The global sampling of flavors is what sets it a part from other small-plate restaurants. And, the menu isn't as opposing as I initially thought - it has several repeating ingredients - red pepper, chipotle, and goat cheese to name a few - that help tie all the various styles together.

Prior to joining Mezé, the executive chef spent twenty-five years at the Ritz Carlton and his expertise shows in the dishes - they are flavorful and mostly unique. I say mostly because there are a couple items that felt too familiar, specifically the potato dishes. The Greek pommes frites and Papas Bravas didn't have that take-it-up-a-notch taste. I've had fries with feta before and while the signature chipotle alioli made the beef sliders, well more than a mini burger, the alioli couldn't help the uninspired roasted potatoes. But those dishes are the exception to the overall fantastic selection I sampled. A few personal favorites - the peppercorn beef with gorgonzola, the pepper-crusted tuna, and the goat cheese and tomato tart. The beef was tender and served with plenty of sauce and crostinis - this dish felt like home, it meze-goatcheese.jpgwas comforting without feeling familiar. The gorganzola cheese gave the dish just the right amount of salt. The pepper-crusted tuna is served on a crispy wonton with a wasbai cream. This tuna plate is well balanced and light and would have paired nicely with a crisp white wine. Without a doubt, my favorite dish overall was the goat cheese and tomato tart. Wow-zah! This creamy cheese tart is served over a tomato and basil sauce with crusty bread. I could probably live off this tart forever.

My dinner mate chose a red wine from the Russian Valley to accompany our dishes and while the wine was fantastic, sometimes I felt the red overpowered some of the more delicate dishes. The red went great with the barbecued chicken winglets and lamb chops (with a red pepper puree) but it was too much for the Caribbean ceviche and the salmon and rosemary cream. I think Mezé would be wise to consider wine flights or samplers.

It doesn't take long to notice that Mezé is trying to be a little bit of everything for everyone - highbrow and homey, and it works. The global tunes balance out the local art covering the walls; the sleek bar area is toned down by the living room feel of the couch and coffee table combo peppering the perimeter of the space; and classic dishes pair up nicely with sophisticated combinations.

MEZE BLACK BACKROUND.pngMezé is located at 205 North Peoria St., 312-666-6625. Open Monday-Saturday 4pm-2am. Prices range from $6 to $13 per plate along with a full bar and wine selection.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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