Review: The Mediterranean, Birkenhead

By Phoebe Falconer

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Address: 162 Mokoia Rd, Birkenhead
Ph: (09) 419 0911

The Mediterranean's shared platter. Photo / Greg Bowker
The Mediterranean's shared platter. Photo / Greg Bowker

Having recently reviewed Eduardo's in Newmarket, it seemed appropriate to see how its former owner - and namesake - is is faring in his new location in Birkenhead.

Reasonably well, it appears. Although The Mediterranean lacks the cosy atmosphere of Eduardo's, it has a certain industrial charm and our welcome was warm and enthusiastic. The warmth, however, did not extend to our table by the windows, where a draught reminded us that spring really isn't quite here yet, however much we are exhorted to get the vegetable garden organised.

So we moved tables, which did not create a problem for Cathy, our delightful waitress. Nothing did. When we ordered the Sicilian wine, the only foreigner on the extensive list of whites, we were offered a taste first, a service one encounters too rarely. The taste was so pleasant that Hazel and I decided to go with it.

The platter we shared for starters was another rarity, in that it contained sufficient bread with which to enjoy the excellent hummus, pancetta, sundried tomato, plentiful olives, blue cheese, ham off the bone and more. We were pleased we hadn't ordered the supreme platter, which appeared to be a meal in itself.

After this bounty, we were somewhat disappointed by the mains. My kafta, skewers of spiced mince, was described as being served on warm flatbread with hummus. And it was exactly that, no more and no less. The bread covered the plate with the skewer across it like some poor abandoned animal. The hummus was again excellent, but the presentation lacked appeal. Alan had the same issue with his skewer of lamb chunks, although the meat was tender and juicy.

Bill's beef-filled ravioli were fine, but not spectacular. But the tomato sauce was rich and tasty, so the dish was somewhat redeemed. Hazel had the best out of the four, with her ryash ghanam, tender lamb chops served with crushed baby potatoes and a selection of vegetables. Although the presentation again lacked panache, it has to be said that the meat was of the best quality.

Being all of us still on the chilly side, we opted not to stay for dessert, and headed back over the bridge.

The Mediterranean does some things very well. The service is sparkling and attentive without being over-solicitous. The ingredients in the meals are carefully selected and of a high standard.

But the place is cold, and the food presentation lacks thought. When summer really arrives, a return visit to take advantage of the attractive outdoor area will be called
for.

Rating out of 10

Food: 7
Service: 8
Value: 7
Ambience: 6

Our meal: $238.50 for a shared platter, four mains, six glasses of wine and four beers.

Wine list: Enormous, with almost solely local whites and a mix of imported reds. Hazel and I enjoyed the Grillo Serenata, a Sicilian version of sauvignon blanc.

Verdict: Eduardo crossed the bridge and set up in this location a few years ago. Although the service was excellent, the food lacked verve and we were cold. A return visit in the summer will be a must.

- NZ Herald

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