Garlic Crush offers quick, quality Mediterranean food
March 11, 2014
By David Hayes
Before now, to enjoy Mediterranean food, the only choices in Issaquah were sit-down dining at Tantalus (Greek) and Pogacha (Adriatic). Fine dining, to be sure, but not for those in a hurry, especially the on-the-go lunch crowd.
Filling that void comes Garlic Crush, former Microsoftie Maher “Matt” Jabbour’s second restaurant after opening his first in Bellevue.
Located in the former O’Ginger, the interior has been renovated to accommodate a faster, order-at-the-counter service. The atmosphere is lighter and airier with pop-Arabic music piped over the restaurant’s speakers.
I ate with two co-workers so we could divide and conquer the menu, which features salads, sandwiches and combo plates.
I went straight for the classic gyro. With a direct site line to the kitchen, the fresh beef and lamb mix can be seen, slowly spinning on its vertical rotisserie. Most gyros feature pieces thinly sliced from the spit. Here, the serving was heartier, more like a chunky chop.
The gyro was then filled with fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, parsley and a traditional tzatziki sauce, all within freshly baked pita bread. Believe me, taking a mouthful of fresh ingredients versus prepackaged makes all the difference in the world, especially when enjoying international cuisine.
One of my lunch companions ordered the chicken kebab sandwich. She enjoyed the seasoning on the chicken and found the garlic paste delicious. Most importantly, the ratio of wrap to insides was perfect — it also included romaine, pickles and a tahini sauce.
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We both received in our combo order a side house salad. The dressing was actually a light and fresh vinaigrette that didn’t drown the salad, with onions and cucumbers for a nice touch.
The last member of our trio went with the beef and lamb shawarma combo plate. The grilled beef is served with sautéed onions and red peppers over rice rather than in a wrap. Fresh pita bread is served on the side, which he used to create his own wrap with the tasty ingredients — the flavor sensation possible only from an open flame, rather than a lab-tested additive. Plus, the fresh hummus offered a divine dipping alternative.
With so much food served, at a very affordable fare for lunch, just $9.58 for the gyro combo, I had no room to try my usual favorites found on their menu — garlic fries as a side or baklawa for dessert. And vegetarians fret not — said menu also has ample selections for you, from baba ghannouj to veggie mezza.
Best of all, service was quick and with a smile. Usually, at most dine-in restaurants, we have to block off a whole hour for our lunch break. Here, we were in and out in a half-hour.
So, after several other failed restaurants in the same location, here’s to hoping Garlic Crush has found a welcome, permanent home in Issaquah.
Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.