After an evening filled with cocktails and red wine, chickpea fries and flatbreads, salmon and quinoa, beet salad, fried feta, vanilla saffron scallops, and lava cake - to name a few - most would find the next few things on their plate would include loosening their belts and taking a nap. However, the dishes at Carmel Cafe are perfectly portioned and light enough to leave you wanting even more.
You know what else leaves you wanting more? Carmel Cafe’s kick-ass iPad menus. Welcome to 2012, people. Ordering off an iPad is more fun than playing Angry Birds, which just so happens to be on the iPad menus, should you get bored with your company and want to hurl a Toucan or two. So, that's what ended up happening to us. We had so much fun clicking away on our menu that we just ordered more. And more and more! Note - these menus are embedded with trackers, so don’t try to put one in your purse for regifting purposes, as I did. Apparently, they frown upon that. Check out our friend, Joey, at HowBoutJoey.com to see the low-down on iPad ordering and just how much fun hitting ‘send’ can be.
We feasted on a number of small plates and shareable entrees. We absolutely loved the Mezze Platter, a trilogy of edamame hummus, Baba Ganoush, crispy fried feta and the most unbelievably yummy whipped goat cheese with roasted garlic. We went nuts for the Steak Frites that came with Carmel’s signature fries, which might be some of the most flavorful and crispiest fries I’ve ever eaten. The beet salad, with watercress and toasted pistachios, was so light and delicious, as was the seasonal flatbread, which was thin and crispy and covered in shrimp, mango and arugula. I, of course, obsessed over the Seared Atlantic Scallops that were soft and tender and lying on a bed of vanilla saffron sauce - umm, what. Yum. There’s always room for dessert and the lava cake and poundcake with strawberries did not disappoint. Warm and ooey gooey, these desserts were polished off within seconds. But, we all agreed, the chickpea fries were the star. They were just so simple, yet so perfect. Thick and hearty, yet light and airy, served with tomato jam and curry aioli - I can’t stop thinking about these bad boys.
So, what else should you know about Carmel Cafe other than they have techie-friendly menus and you won’t need to unbutton your pants after eating? Well, why don’t I tell you a little ditty about their concept and cuisine?? Carmel Cafe prides itself on featuring a modern take on Mediterranean cuisine. Their aim is to make you feel like you are at a Mediterranean neighborhood cafe while offering innovative takes on classic recipes from Spain, Italy, France, Morocco and Greece. Operating Partner, Andrew Grassick, explained to me and my dining compatriots that Executive Chef Steve Cook (Ha! Chef Cook! How apropos!) is influenced by his passion for Mediterranean cuisine and loves to collaborate with regional chefs to present recipes that are uncomplicated and eclectic, ideal for sharing or savoring solo.
Wine lovers, you should know that Carmel Cafe offers over 60 amazing labels from around the globe. Check out their monthly wine dinners and special wine tastings each month. Drinkers, in general, you should probably come with a designated driver because you are going to flip over their specialty cocktail menu - Watermelon Granitas, Old Fashioneds, Cucumber Twists, Elderflower Bubblies ...the cocktail menu is practically a meal in itself.
You should probably also know about ‘After 5 @ Carmel’ - where 5 is the magic number every weekday from 5-7pm. 5 plates, 5 wines and 5 martinis for ….you guessed it...only five bucks. See you there tonight, right??
Carmel Cafe is located in The Shoppes at University Center and is open for lunch and dinner. We suggest you go to both. Today.