Mediterranean Cruise Cafe

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It is time.

Rob and I have been going to Mediterranean Cruise Cafe for years. But that meant probably twice or so each year. In the last year, he’s finally discovered the wonder that is the Med Cruise, as it is lovingly nicknamed.

My favorite foods tend to be Mediterranean – tapas from Spain, salads from Provence, Italian pizza and pasta as well as pretty much every Greek delight you can imagine. Maybe it’s all that garlic. Maybe it’s the flavor. Maybe it’s the fact that it whisks me away to a warmer place that isn’t Minnesota.

Whatever the case may be, the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe has never ceased to please everyone we’ve brought there! The Med Cruise has been a South of the (Minnesota) River restaurant since 1979. I’d been to their small dive-ish restaurant in Eagan just once when I first moved to the Twin Cities. However, they relocated to Burnsville in 2009 after building a gradiose establishment that could rival any restaurant in the city!

Let’s start with Happy Hour. The only shame is that on Friday, Happy Hour ends an hour earlier. It’s one of the reasons we disowned it as a pre-poker stop. 😦 But the deals on signature cocktails and food are worth a stop.

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They won’t always alert you of Happy Hour, we’ve found; so be sure to ask. For cocktails, we recommend the Manhattan (Rob) and Peartini (Carrie).

As for Happy Hour food, the half-off items really can’t be beat. First, I think Med Cruise has the best, creamiest hummus around. Rob loves to order the Steak Hummus, a small plateful of hummus topped with chunks of beef tenderloin and pine nuts and drizzled with olive oil. Also recommended: Mediterranean Flatbread topped with slices of gyros, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and feta cheese. Yes, please!

My secret Chicken Kabob Munchies is my appetizer-turned-meal that is also half-off during Happy Hour. Yes, that is $5.50 for all of this!

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Chicken Kabob Munchies with Hummus & Garlic Dip – Reg-$11, HH-$5.50

I call it a “secret” because while many of the other entrees are $15 to $50, you can get this appetizer as a meal on any given day for just $11. It’s plenty of food and so tasty! It’s listed in the Appetizer section under Combo Platters on the menu:

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The only thing we aren’t fond of at Med Cruise is the pita bread that they serve along side everything. It’s soft, boring and I picture it coming out a of bag, not made fresh. But that’s not an issue if you know the other secret:

Order Toasted Pita Bread with a side of Garlic Dip!

 When it’s just the two of us, we like to sit at the bar.

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If you look carefully, you can see us in the mirror:

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They won’t always give you a wine and cocktail list automatically. You may have a plastic one at your table when you arrive; but it is not all-inclusive. So be sure to ask for one – it’s extensive! I’m always discovering something new. Like last time, I found a low-calorie cocktail menu:IMG_2368

I tried the Mediterranean Magic:

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Mediterranean Magic – Cointreau, tequila or vodka, lemon juice, club soda, mint leaf – 109 calories

I saw that the bartender had to look it up in order to make it. So who knows if it was the right cocktail I was served. At first, I thought it was only okay; but it grew on me as I sipped. Is it strange that I preferred to chomp on the mint rather than let it sit in my drink?!

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Just like the cocktail and wine menu, you can probably stare at the food menu all day. There are so many items from which to choose! When you turn this menu over, the other side is completely filled with entrees including kabobs, steaks, seafood, just to name a few.

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Other items we order often at Med Cruise are the Chicken Gyros Platter (Carrie) and Toasted Garlic Gyros (Rob).

TOASTED GARLIC GYROS 10 Toasted pita with garlic dip, gyro meat, toasted on the grill, garnished with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and garlic dip.

Toasted Garlic Gyros – Toasted pita with garlic dip, gyro meat, toasted on the grill, garnished with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and garlic dip – $10

Ordering the Toasted Garlic Gyros is how we discovered the wonder that is Garlic Dip! With all of these winning dishes we’ve had, it really is hard for us to venture out and try something new. We have our tried-and-trues.

But on our last visit with friends,

we had a completely different experience!

~

It was our second trip to Med Cruise with our friends Jared and Matt. On this occasion, they wanted to order a Greek wine. To be quite honest with you, I had never had a Greek wine I’d liked.

Jared chose one to taste. Our waiter brought over two glasses and offered a pretty nice pour for each of them to try. I tasted it, too. There was something a little off about it. We all agreed that it had been sitting out way too long. Med Cruise uses vacuum wine savers for their wine. So you’d think that open bottles would be well-preserved. Still, a wine saver will extend the life of an open bottle; but it won’t keep it forever. I don’t think Med Cruise is in the habit of throwing any wine out. That’s why I’m not very fond of ordering wine by the glass when I dine out.

Jared still decided to order the wine anyway, by the bottle.

The difference was astounding! 

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I absolutely loved this wine! It was medium-bodied with a nice acidity and a dry finish. It tasted nothing like the taste we were given. I imagine that Med Cruise would sell more wine by both the glass and the bottle if they just kept the wine fresh.

Now that I think about it, I’ve never cared for wine by the glass when I’ve ordered it there. I could barely drink the house wines I’ve tried during Happy Hour. And even when I’ve ordered a wine I knew I liked, I could tell hit had been sitting out way too long. Now, if I’m ever going to order wine by the glass, I just need to get the guts to ask them to open a new bottle. Yes, if I’m paying exorbitant amounts for a glass of wine, at least I can be given a fresh glass. Right?

To start, we ordered the usual toasted pita and garlic dip and also this:

KIBBE NIYAH NEW 15 Middle Eastern spiced steak tartar.

Kibbe Niyah – Middle Eastern spiced steak tartare – $15

This was so delicious, especially when slathering the kibbe on toasted pita bread with some garlic dip! I was really surprised that Rob not only tried this, but ate more than a few bites! I’ve only seen him try tartare one other time and he got sick the next day. After that, I thought it would be Never Again!

But even after those tasty starters, Jared and Matt went all out and ordered us a lamb feast called:

THE GOURMET SILVER TRAY

Just check the online calendar. I also love that there are so many healthy options on the menu. When everything tastes so great, it’s hard to choose another place south of the river!

From what region of the world is your favorite food?

Cheers~
Carrie

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