Lunch at Red Meze, a Turkish Restaurant, Johnson City, TN April 12, 2017
I ate at this place in a refurbished old textile mill years ago with a lovely friend I briefly had the hots for. Back then, it was called Mediterranean Garden. I had been there a few times before, often to eat the Mediterranean buffet at lunch, but with her, I ordered the best Moussaka of my life. It was just delicious. The conversation was great, the food was excellent, and the owner, who had often come by to chat, was charming.
It went so well that I didn’t go back. Even when I craved a good gyro or the moussaka again, I didn’t want to tip the delicate balance of perfection that evening had represented. The evening wasn’t life-changing or profound, or even particularly great other than everything I love had aligned precisely to make what was a perfect evening of enjoyment.
I’ve always kind of been like this. Searching for the perfect moments, the times when I am at my most relaxed and the events around me are exactly what I envision when I dream of what I wish my life was always. Usually, I don’t try to preserve them, but this place…this place was off my usual routes and close to where my Mom had run a small business for decades, so it was my turn and kind of in a special realm. I chose to leave it as I had last seen it, a magical evening with a pretty girl with good food and new friends. Perfect.
I was at my Mom’s “Shop” loading a helium tank into a truck on my lunch break, and I thought since I was in the neighborhood, and now that several years had gone by, I would check out Mediterranean Garden again!
I was surprised to see that, even though the original sign was still on the side of the building, the awning and doors now proclaimed it was Red Meze, a Turkish restaurant. I was intrigued, and in a weird way, relieved. My memories had a clear context with a beginning and end and I could think of it as a different place as well as a different time.
Red Meze makes a good gyro. It’s not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s definitely good and their taziki is done RIGHT! I’ve learned that I can forgive a lot if a restaurant has a good taziki to remove the rough edges of the flavors.
The folks were very nice (and all smelled very good, wearing subtle unfamiliar fragrances,) and very no-nonsense in taking orders and delivering food fast! I would like to have had more of the sides. I ordered the gyro and two sides. The gyro came with a small pile of pretty standard food service shoestring fries, then I had a couple falafel (shaped like round hush-puppies.) I would be very surprised to find that both sides were made fresh in-house.
Still, despite the bar-food presentation and want of more sides, the gyro was satisfying and the taziki (I would have eaten double the bowl they gave me if I had it) was great with the sides. With an unsweet tea, it was all around $12–13 for lunch.
I’ll have to go back for dinner and have the moussaka with a lovely lady that I like to really compare the two restaurants. I know it’s not fair to expect perfect evenings from any restaurant and I KNOW that good is good enough, but how are perfect evenings ever going to happen if we don’t at least TRY?