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Mirage, Circa 1875, Avia
From the Mirage

The Mirage Mediterranean Bar & Grill

This new downtown restaurant featuring Turkish–inspired cuisine has the potential to be an oasis – but not without some changes in the kitchen. I wanted to see a variety of dishes, and the menu accommodated with a combination plate, more usually referred to as meze. As you can see by the photo, it presented nicely enough, but most ingredients came up short. The falafel was oily and the nice flavor of chickpeas was overshadowed.  The hummus and baba ganoush were each served with puddles of olive oil in the centers – like mashed potatoes with a ladle of gravy, only not warm and comforting. This adornment overpowered the flavors of each and added an unnecessary component. Can this meal be saved? Yes, the single slice of gyro was moist, hot and nicely seasoned – it was very enjoyable with a forkful of tabouli. Now, the tabouli was a little too heavy on the parsley...but I’ll give ’em one for personal expression. Lastly, the little pair of spanakopita were light and delicious with a creamy feta filling. There were only three other diners present during my dinner time visit – but lots of folks stopped at the window to look at the menu – a hodge–podge of Mediterranean dishes and, sadly, mostly jazzed up entrees of steak, chicken – then they kept walking. It’s as if this little restaurant can’t decide what it wants to be. Need more evidence? Step inside the door and you’re greeted by a large sound–mixing board. Later in the evening, the hookah bar element of the business gets rolling, but I don’t see why this piece of electronic gear needs to be front and center of what is otherwise a nice re–do of the former Kilwin’s Chocolate Shop.

20 E. Broughton St./236–5464

Bits and pieces...

Keep your eyes open for the long anticipated restaurant adjoining popular downtown bar Circa 1875. The plan is to offer classic French bistro style food at affordable prices – I can’t wait to sample what comes outta this kitchen!

I stepped into the lobby of Avia Hotel last week and noticed something was different, but the same...hmmmm. Oh wow, the bar grew – it’s now triple its original size in a miraculous, nearly overnight remodel. These guys are really stepping up the pace with a small plates menu at 5 p.m. every day and the bar business has grown far beyond original expectations. Count on premium liquors and wines – and a nice handful of the best craft beers.