Medjool Sampler Plate: Hummus, Tabouli, Baba Ghanoush; Lamb Tagine; Seared Sea Scallops with Preserved Lemon Gremolata and Sunchoke Puree
Occupation: Police Officer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Medjool
Reviewed Medjool: Sunday June 10, 2007
Home again, home again. I’ve eaten here so many times that it is almost my home away from home. Trying to pick out a favorite restaurant in the Bay Area is almost impossible. There’s just way too many great restaurants to choose from, so I had to really think about which one to review. I have about four or five restaurants I recommend to people on a regular basis. Medjool is definitely up there. I won’t lie, convenience does play a part in why I go to Medjool. It’s close to home, and there is a parking garage around the corner. But the reason I recommend it, is the food. It was really my wife, Angela, who discovered Medjool. I think she found it while researching a place for “Girls Night Out.” She told me about the restaurant, and I wanted to try it. A couple weeks later, I tried it on a Thursday, and again on that Saturday. I was hooked.
So, here it is two years later, and I’m writing a little review. Angela and I went to Medjool on a Sunday evening (yes, they’re now open on Sundays) before the sun had set. Before walking in, I really tried to remember the first time I had eaten there, and clear my mind of any preconceived notions. As we entered, I remembered how open and large a space it is. There is a large foyer/lounge area up front. You walk past the bar and another lounge area to get to the dining room. All the way on the journey to your table, you are treated to a blend of modern and classic Middle Eastern decor. Once you sit down, look up at the very cool chandelier made of glass lamps. Because the sun was just starting to set, it was shining from the upstairs mezzanine onto the wall. This gave a very cool effect.
Angela sat down and started with a glass of cava. I had a beer. We were greeted by friendly faces and immediately ordered the Medjool sampler plate. The sampler plate comes with hummus, baba ghanouj, and tabbouleh with warm pita. I normally am not a big fan of baba ghanouj (I don’t like eggplant), but for some reason I love Medjool’s. It is the perfect consistency with the right amount of lemon. Their hummus and tabbouleh are some of the best I’ve had.
Now the best part about eating at Medjool, in my opinion, is that the entire menu is small plates. I have the worst time trying to decide on a single entree, so this way I get to pick several dishes. We followed the sampler plate with the seared tuna, the seared scallops, the baby spinach salad, and the grilled lamb sirloin. The scallops are always one of my favorites. They come three to a plate and are served with preserved lemon gremolata and sunchoke purée. The scallops are perfectly cooked, never chewy, and the sunchoke (similar to a potato) purée just sends it home. If I’m with more than one other person, I always order at least two plates of the scallops. The baby spinach salad is also one of our regular dishes. It’s hard to go wrong with fresh spinach, roasted tomato, warm pancetta and goat cheese. The last two dishes are newer to the menu: seared tuna and grilled lamb sirloin. Both were cooked perfectly. The tuna is marinated in chermoula (a Morroccan marinade for fish) and seared just enough so that it is warm all the way through without being overcooked. The tuna was served with fava beans and mint. A great combo that works. The lamb was served over orzo with cherries and mushrooms with cinnamon and star anise jus. If you don’t like your meat pink in the middle, you better tell your server because that’s how it comes, which is the way it should come in my book. I was a little skeptical about mushrooms with cherries, but along with the jus, it was rockin’. This time, Angela and I actually paced ourselves correctly, which meant dessert was an option. We had the warm chocolate cake. Ooey and gooey in the middle and very chocolatey. It came with a cherry sauce that we had on the side. A great way to end the meal.
Obviously, I really like this restaurant. I have eaten there with just my wife and with large groups, both with equal success. The menu is diverse enough to keep things interesting without getting too complicated. I have also eaten there with people who have restricted diets (myself included, being a heart attack survivor), and it has never been an issue. Casual or dress up, you’ll feel comfortable either way. If you go on a Friday or Saturday, I suggest dressing up a little. That’s when the hipsters are out and waiting for the restaurant to turn into a nightclub (11:00, I think). The rooftop is also a great place to grab a drink and enjoy the view of the City.
Occupation: Motor Clothing Buyer
Favorite Restaurant: Tropix
Reviewed Medjool: Wednesday, June 6, 2007
My husband, baby, and I visited Medjool on a weekday. The restaurant is located in the Mission. We walked in, and I immediately like the atmosphere. The service was top-notch and everyone had a great attitude. They opened at 6 PM and we arrived early. We were seated in their lounge area and ordered our appetizers. We had a cheese platter and a sampler with hummus, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush. The flavors were out of this world!!! The bartender Sven was very personable and kept our glasses full. We then went to our table and ordered our main dishes. My husband ordered an octopus platter and I ordered a lamb platter. The flavors exploded in our mouth! The menu has different regions of food which come in small portions that you can share. Jonathon made sure we enjoyed our meal, which we did. The portions were just right, and we left satisfied.
We checked out the Sky Terrace there. It’s located on the roof. The restaurant is in the same building as a hostel and was fun for meeting new people and a mellow atmosphere. I would highly recommend Medjool to anyone!!!
Occupation: Graduate Psychologist
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Millenium
Reviewed Medjool: Thursday, June 7, 2007
Medjool is located in the heart of the Mission District in San Francisco. Upon entering, you can take the world’s slowest elevator up to the roof terrace for drinks, which definitely has a fun atmosphere and phenomenal views of San Francisco, and is worth hanging out for a while, even though the scene can be a bit of a meat market. The only thing bad about the roof terrace is that because it’s so great, people probably neglect the exquisite lounge. The interior of the restaurant is quite modern and stylish, but even with their expansive ceiling and wide open spaces, it’s extremely comfortable and inviting. The lounge is more my taste, with an intimate and cozy feel. It’s laid out with lush sofas and chairs.
My dinner companion and I arrived an hour and a half early for our reservation, so we decided to relax in the lounge with some wine. Foregoing the main dining room, we simply stayed at the lounge for dinner since Medjool is entirely small plates. The tapas idea is growing more and more popular in San Francisco, and we love it. The only word of caution is to know that these restaurants sometimes look cheaper than they are. For the two of us, we shared 5 small plates. You can look at the menu and see prices for items like $11 or $12 and think that it’s not too expensive, but once you have 4 or 5 small plates, plus wine or cocktails, it adds up.
Our first course featured the roasted beet salad with halloumi cheese and rosewater-orange vinaigrette along with the bruschetta with fava beans, cherry tomatoes, and basil-herb ricotta. I really hate beets. Seriously. I’ve never liked them, and I’ve tried them a hundred different ways; but my dining partner is passionate about them, so we ordered them anyway. They were amazing! The texture was just perfect, solid but tender and cooked through, and the light rosewater seeped through the beet and made the dish absolutely delicious. The bruschetta was a really great counterbalance to the salad with the rich herbed ricotta. Our next course included crispy Delta asparagus with Meyer lemon-roasted garlic aioli. The crispy component of the dish was, of course, that the asparagus was fried, which made this a relatively heavy dish, although it was really good. We also had the pita crisps with za’atar and lebni, which were nice and light. Even though I was full, I couldn’t resist trying the pommes frites with parsley and preserved lemon a little later on. The potatoes were cut flat and thin in an interesting twist. Overall, the food was fantastic, with a really eclectic mix of choices.
The service was attentive and quick. One thing that I always appreciate is when you’re dining slowly with small plates, that the server is experienced and wise enough to know when you’ve had enough time between courses and you’re ready to order a next one. At a place like this, while enjoying wine or cocktails, it’s nice to relax between courses and enjoy the ambience, and our server was always great in her timing.
Believe it or not, we were having such a great time and enjoying the food that a DJ started playing music, and lo and behold, it turns out that we had been there for over four hours! Medjool turns into a club at night, and the music is club music for sure, but with a Persian flare. As we were leaving the owner attentively thanked us and gave me one of those masculine half handshakes-half hugs deals. He was really warm and sincere.
We really loved Medjool and know that we’ll be bringing friends back. I’ve found a nice home at the lounge, and I know that our friends would really love the food and atmosphere.