A few weeks ago we had the sad honor of reporting that Mundo in Astoria would be closing its doors. Clearly eager to see what the new owners had to offer, Friday night my girlfriend and I tried out a small sampling of Astoria’s newest arrival, Mezze Place. Here’s a sampling of what we tried.
Let’s start with the Red Lentil Kofte. It’s easy to understand why we were hoping these might be similar to Mundo’s Red Sonjas, but Red Sonjas they are not. Our waitress, a longtime Mundo employee, even warned us as we ordered these lentil lettuce wraps that they were definitely not Red Sonjas. The Red Lentil Kofte were similar only in their lettuce and lemon wedge presentation; these wraps have a chunkier texture, sweeter finish, and less pronounced spices than a Red Sonja.
Next up were some rather tasty falafels. While too soft to hold up to dipping in their out-of-this-world hummus, they’re still worth the order.
Oh, their hummus- it’s divine. Rich with tahini and perhaps worth the trip alone. Served with warm pita presented in brown paper bags, we ate this alongside everything we ordered.
The Cauliflower Blossom is simple- fried cauliflower served with toasted pine nuts, a burst of lemon & tahini, and it’s quite good. You’ll find that most dishes at MezzePlaces are topped with their exceedingly rich tahini. No complaints here.
Owner Lana mentioned they’re still in the process of adding to their relatively small menu. This pumpkin soup wasn’t on Friday night’s menu, but they brought it out for us to try. My girlfriend said it was the best she’d ever had and might have even had a tear in her eye.
Every meal at Mezze Place is started off with a small dish of green olive tapenade, which if available in larger portions, I’d gladly order alongside of their other tasty dips. We also nibbled on their Mezze Place Chopped Salad, which that night featured a fresh mixture of arugula, mint, tomatoes, and cucumber and was topped off with a huge dollop of tahini dressing. To put it mildly, this is not a photogenic salad. What it lacks in pretty it makes up for in taste.
The new owners are passionate wine people and were eager to share news about their upcoming wine program while we sampled several glasses of wine and port from their current list. While I don’t typically associate Middle Eastern food with wine pairings, Lana and her husband are so excited to bring hand-selected, small batch wines to Astoria that their excitement spread to me as well. Look for a list of 20-25 biodynamic or small case run wines at Mezze Place sometime in November.
Overall, the food was quite tasty, well prepared and worth the trip. The new owners are warm and gracious, and you’ll find the space is unchanged completely from its time as Mundo (in fact, the old Mundo awnings were still up when we popped in). Mezze Place, while no Mundo, is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.