I adore everything about Mediterranean cuisine: the slow progression of a meal from the mezzas, or appetizers, to the main course, the fresh produce, and, above all else, the emphasis upon simplicity that allows the star elements of a dish to really shine. However, don’t let minimalism fool you; a short list of ingredients does not necessarily mean simple preparation. In efforts to highlight the essence of the main component, whether it is a vegetable or filet of fish, one should acquire only top quality goods and produce in the marketplace. In the Mediterranean realm there is no veil to hide behind if the key elements of a dish are lacking.
I was drawn to Cool Café on Stone Oak Parkway for a couple of reasons: affordable prices and an extensive and creative menu featuring Mediterranean staples such as falafel and curveballs like crepes. Cool Café’s interior boasts a rustically romantic ambiance complete with glass lanterns, textured walls, and wooden accents.
To begin, my friends and I selected an appetizer of bademjan, sautéed eggplant in olive oil immersed in a mint yogurt sauce and served with pita bread. The warm pita bread was superb with the cool tang of the yogurt sauce. The dolmas, otherwise known as stuffed grape leaves, were just as they should be: salty, zesty with lemon, and doused with olive oil.
I ordered the shrimp kebab for my entrée. It arrived with buttered basmati rice, stewed tomatoes, and arugula salad. Kebab — hunks of veggies and/or meats sizzling on a grill — are a staple throughout the Mediterranean region. I was craving tender shrimp with crispy grill marks, but received tough bites lacking flavor. The salad also could have used some extra attention. A little feta or maybe some sweet yellow peppers and cucumber to offset the overpowering vinaigrette. I presumed the “world apart” experience and authentic mezzas were paving the way for a grand finale, yet the consistency of Cool Cafe’s cuisine ended at the main course.
Cool Café Mediterranean Cuisine and Bar
19141 Stone Oak Pkwy. #507, (210) 403-2665