The Phoenician Taverna Review
Well, here’s my first “food critic” review. I have to admit, I never thought my first blog review would be on a restaurant in a strip mall in a suburb, but this place deserves it. We went for the first time this Friday night. The Phoenician Taverna is a Middle Eastern restaurant in Mason, OH that serves classic Middle Eastern dishes. I’ve been looking for a good place like that serves classic dishes as most concentrate on kebabs, although Abigail Street (one of my favorite restaurants ever) serves up amazing contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s in a strip mall in Mason, so it’s not a place I’d normally go…that is typically a haven for chain restaurants that don’t keep much money local and don’t serve imaginative or quality food. However, this is a locally owned place that has gotten some great early reviews, so we thought we’d check it out. Once you walk in, you forget you’re in a strip mall. A pretty nice bar area and an open kitchen were very nice to see. There was a very full crowd and a fully equipped staff, which was nice to see. The first thing brought to us was fantastic freshly made pita bread, served with zaatar and olive oil. The mezza (Middle Eastern tapas) were great…meat pie, pumpkin kibbeh, and hummus topped with lamb, beef, and pine nuts were all excellent. Then, the entrees…wow. We had lamb fatteh (lamb with warm yogurt, garlic, layered chickpeas, toasted pita pieces, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds) and ouzi (braised lamb and rice). Both were excellent, had fantastic, lean pieces of lamb, and just tasted fresh. They even had some craft beer (had a Bell’s Two Hearted IPA) as well as a decent wine list. My only complaint is that I wish it were closer…if this was at Newport on the Levee (we really need something quality in the old Tropicana location, darnit!) or Downtown I’d be 10 pounds heavier in about a month. This place really makes up for the disappointment of Mantra on the Hill (contemporary Indiana cuisine in Mt Adams) from a couple of weeks ago (a great idea not done right). I highly recommend this place, as it joins my short list of favorite restaurants in any city.