Dining review: Café Medi Keller

Cafe Medi

129 E. Olive St.




Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5-10 p.m. for dinner, Tuesday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday.

Posted 10:21am on Tuesday, Sep. 03, 2013

One foot inside the new Café Medi in Keller, and you’re already in for a surprise.

Expecting a strip-center redo, in the same vein of its Hurst cousin? Think again.

The décor in this Old Town Keller bungalow-turned-restaurant is old-school kitschy, a veritable meze plate of gilded-framed Parthenon pics and Mykonos sunsets. And the cloth-covered tables with their high-backed formal chairs seem a curious choice for the low-ceilinged dining room, which runs the length of the building.

For a place that’s not even a few months old, it’s got character to spare – and that’s even before you taste the food.

Perhaps it’s because owner Manos Moursi knows what his customers like. His Hurst venue, open since 2005, is a casual spot known for family celebrations (see the restaurant’s Facebook page) and embraced for its BYOB policy.

The Keller location, also BYOB, sure has brought it. From avogolemo to tzatziki, the seasoned cooks behind the fine fare here are, fittingly, not averse to the spice rack.

First the avgolemono ($2.95), the Greek egg-lemon soup: Here, it’s flecked with dill, which permeates the thick broth. While white rice takes the place of the more traditional orzo, we were taken by the tangy starter, a terrific palate primer for the rest of the food.

Impressive as well was the meze plate ($7.95), this one edible: A trio of hummus, babaghanoosh and tzatziki were assured iterations of the increasingly popular condiments. The hummus, creamy; the eggplant dip, garlicky and chunky; and the tzatziki was inordinately thick (sour cream and yogurt?) and refreshing.

On to the main events: The mixed grill ($11.95 at lunch; $15.95 for dinner) of souvlaki beef and chicken and a kefta kebab proved Instagram-ready. The meat, served with savory rice and green beans, was generous in portion, but the plate still managed to have an elegant, attractive presentation. The rich beef and kebab were succulent; ridiculously juicy and properly seasoned. The grilled chicken, already quite tasty, was even more delectable dunked into the accompanying tahini sauce.

The shawarma combo ($8.95, $13.95), strips of beef and chicken, also was a hit at our table, which became increasingly quiet — I guess we were all too focused on the food to engage in much conversation, other than: “Can you pass the pita?” And speaking of which, the pliant, puffy triangles were the perfect vessels for what constituted near-condiment abuse.

Other hits included the shawarma combo’s Greek salad ($3.95), which we substituted for the side salad. We were glad we did. While hardly a standard side-salad size, the big bowl of romaine and iceberg bore a barely street-legal avalanche of feta. Add a few strings of red onion, kalamata olives and a tangy olive oil/red-wine vinegar dressing and we quickly deemed this the area’s Best Greek Salad (But maybe we have just eaten too many burgers lately?)

The only miss was a slice of the limoncello marscapone mousse cake ($4.50), which lacked tartness, or perhaps just seemed a little too pedestrian for such an otherworldly meal.

While a visit to Keller can take on the air of a staycation, due to the charming combination of highway construction and unsynchronized traffic lights in northern Tarrant Country, Café Medi delivers the goods.

All you need to do is get there. Bottle of wine, optional.

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