A Taste of the Exotic

Hookah dips Madison cuisine into the Mediterranean

Hookah dips Madison cuisine into the Mediterranean

Perched on the bluffs overlooking Madison’s West Beltline, the Mediterranean Hookah Lounge and Café is housed in an unobtrusive building which belies the unusual treasures found within.

Start your culinary adventure with one of the traditional Mediterranean appetizers, such as the popular Hummus or Baba Ghannouge, both made in-house daily. Both are the perfect complement to the warm pita slices which welcome you to the table. The large salads could be a meal by themselves. The Lebanese Fettush Salad, flavored with mint and olive oil, is tossed with toasted pita chip “croutons” for a delicious crunch. Or try the Greek Salad, with feta cheese and kalamata olives providing a lush, salty backdrop to some virtuous vegetables.

But save room for the entrees! The Shawarma Platter serves up crispy strips of roasted beef and lamb (similar to gyro meat) with hummus, vegetables and the sesame sauce Tahini on the side; building the perfect bite atop each pita wedge is half the fun. The Surf and Turf platter delivers classic flavors with a large seared beef tenderloin alongside three truly enormous prawns, fried in a delicate, crisp batter coating.

Round out your feast with lokum, one of the oldest candies on earth. Listed on the menu as Turkish Delight, these are soft chewy candies that are neither sticky nor overly sweet, and come in flavors like rosewater and hazelnut. These treats are the perfect way to end your meal on a sweet note. If you have a little more room left, the subtle flavors of the Italian Cream Cake or the rich, honeyed taste of Lebanese Baklava are a wonderful companion to coffee.

During and after your meal, there’s more to enjoy. The restaurant is comprised of four parts: the restaurant itself, a martini bar, a lounge area, and a traditional Wisconsin tavern in the back. Every Thursday through Saturday night, skilled belly dancers undulate their way through the dining room, enhancing the exotic flavors of your meal.

As the name suggests, patrons may also experience the age-old tradition of sharing a hookah (a traditional Middle Eastern smoking pipe) anywhere in the building. But since tobacco is simply heated, not burned, the atmosphere in the restaurant remains surprisingly clean.