Ahh- the Mediterranean Sea, boasting luscious fruits, seaport living, and an abundance of sun and surf most of the year round. It also is home to retiring baby boomers and to some of the most delectable cuisine our world has to offer.
From Provencal and Italian to Croatian and Greek; the Mediterranean spans a wide variety of cultures and therefore a wide variety of cuisine. Please do not make the mistake of thinking the words cuisine and diet are inter-changeable. Mediterranean cuisine is not a “Mediterranean Diet”. The latter is an Americanized term for a loose diet consisting of Mediterranean style foods and sans carbs. But with so many options and variety there should be no classification at all.
Take Rachel’s Mediterranean for example. Family owned since 2005; Husband and wife team Henri and Hannah Khoury took Greek cuisine and wrapped it up with simple contemporary flare. Their commercial success eventually led to their son expanding the business and adding two new locations; one at the corner of Chippewa and Delaware Street in the heart of the entertainment district and the more recent addition of the Hamburg location on McKinley Pkwy right across from Five Guys Restaurant.
What makes Rachel’s unique is the simple menu options and “make your own” style buffet. It’s Greek food done fast. Huh? Think of it this way, when you’re at a carnival and you see the “Greek Food Tent”, you know the one- people are lined up 20 deep just to get a gyro the way only the greek can do it…well it’s that simple. You walk up to the counter, pick out your meat, toppings and bread or wrap and off you go. It’s healthy, fresh and made right in front of you (for the most part). If I have to nitpick (and thus I must), the Gyro meat is not on a vertical spit but rather already cut and sitting in a tin that is warmed underneath. It looks rubbery and not very fresh. Not my favorite thing to see. When I think Gyro, I think juicy lamb meat stacked or slid onto a vertical spit that rotates and is carved fresh as you order.
With my one exception, Rachel’s offers up a delicious array of chicken souvlaki, chicken kabob, gyro souvlaki or kabob, homemade schawarma sauce ( a combination of thinly sliced meat in a piping hot pita with a secret sauce like only Rachel’s can make it) and various bread bowl or wrap options. Toppings include such items as tzatziki sauce (tangy cucumber dip with garlic and seasonings), tabbouleh (homemade), dill sauce, kalamata olives, glazed onions, peppers, and greek oil.
I tend to go for the chicken souvlaki and I layer it with dill sauce, kalamata olives, tabbouleh, and brown rice. Oh and maybe a side of their amazing greek style French fries. The fries alone will have you going back for more. Thick steak cut fries drenched in greek oil, dill sauce and feta cheese (for me it’s hold the cheese). There’s not much more to say about it.
I have been to two locations; both the Delaware location and the Hamburg location. The menu is straight forward and simple, so no rupturing a vein trying to decide what to order and the pricing is reasonable. A meal for two (two wraps) with a side order of fries and two drinks was just $20.00 plus tax.
While the décor (in the Hamburg location) is sparse and vacant, it’s the food you go for. And for those of you with digestive sensitivities you can control what goes on your dish and in your mouth. The chef cooks (or reheats) right in front of you; making it easy to watch what he’s adding and ask questions if there are concerns. I found they were very accommodating with my lactose intolerance and asked me if I was allergic to butter (which I’m not- THANK GOD). But it impressed me that they thought to ask that. Not many chefs’ do.
Rachel’s is doing it right. It’s greek healthy food done fast. They’ve put their own spin on Mediterranean and are serving it up to the masses.