The small menu at Fargo’s newest restaurant, Mediterranean Grill, is focused on fresh, local ingredients, savory slow cooked meats and providing full disclosure about where the food comes from and how it’s prepared.
The interior of the strip mall location is spotless but very basic. All the attention is lavished on the food.
“We want to know what we eat,” said owner Simo Sati. “No preservatives, no hormones. We like to keep the menu small and healthy.” Almost every item, including the sauces and dressings, is prepared in house and made to order.
“There is a little dish from each country in the Mediterranean,” said Simo. “There’s a Moroccan soup, a Turkish-style burger, a French salad.” The flavors are subtle and quite earthy, prepared with fresh herbs and spices but definitely not spicy. It’s a comfortable fit for Midwesterners raised on mellow meat and potato dishes.
The menu is still evolving and a printed menu hasn’t yet materialized, so for now Simo offers a display featuring each menu item and offers samples of everything “so people can see and taste.” He gave us an enthusiastic description of every single item, well before I mentioned that I’d be writing about the experience.
Simo is passionate about food. He is the kind of guy who talks at length about olive oils from around the world and whips out his iPhone to show off photos of lovingly arranged cuts of meat.
The Mediterranean Grill gets its hormone and antibiotic-free chicken and grass fed beef from Farimount Locker in Fairmount, North Dakota and Simo not only wants you to know it, he wants you to know he knows the farmer who raised your dinner.
Simo brings 18 years of food and beverage experience to the table (he’s worked in fine dining restaurants, hotels and at Disney) but he says the real education came from his family in Morocco. “We learned from the masters,” he says with a grin.
The Moroccan influence is obvious in the harira (a hearty tomato-based soup with lentils and chickpeas offered as a side dish with each entree) and the Moroccan mint green tea offered after the meal.
Derrick really liked this burger. It’s served with two salsas, one similar to a Mexican pico de gallo with tomatoes, onions and cilantro and the second with charmoula (also spelled chermoula) a cooked marinade used in Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine. Derrick says the charmoula totally made the burger for him.
I shared my sliders (one each of chicken, tilapia and beef) with Eli, who almost inhaled the tilapia slider before I could taste it. “Our pulled chicken, pulled fish and pulled beef, we don’t get them out of a bag,” said Simo. “It’s slow cooking and the natural chicken and grass fed beef are raised right here in North Dakota.
Each sandwich features a sauce made from the meat’s own juices. The beef sauce has a nice hit of natural sweetness from the au jus, prunes, raisins and onions. All of the entrees are served with dark, housemade potato chips made from organic potatoes.
Simo plans to add delivery and catering options, a weekend buffet for families and serve an occasional cobbler for a healthy dessert option. He’s also researching local sources of lamb for shawarma.
The Mediterranean Grill is still incredibly new (just two days old at press time) so there are sure to be developments as the menu changes and customers make their preferences known. If you check it out, let me know what you think.
5050 13th Avenue South
Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 8 p.m.
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