PHOTO by DOUG DOBEY
by Anne Jones
“Look away, just look away, keep your eyes that way! You would think that in a
fancy restaurant at these prices you could keep the snails out of the food! There are so many snails there you can’t even see the food! Now take those away and bring us those melted cheese sandwich appetizers you talked me out of.”
That’s Steve Martin’s famous Navin Johnson in The Jerk, and unfortunately, it’s a bit like me. So when my more, shall we say worldly, friend K ordered the octopus during her recent birthday dinner at Demi’s, it was with some embarrassing trepidation that I sampled it. Who knew? I loved octopus! It had a smokey, savory flavor with a scallop-like texture, grilled with red wine vinegar, herbs and olive oil. Tasted almost buttery smooth. And it was only one of seventeen equally appealing appetizers on the menu. There was fried calamari, baked oysters with spinach and feta, dolmades, and dried apricots stuffed with ricotta cheese, spanish almonds and a drizle balsamic reduction, to name a few.
On my first visit to this new Demi’s Mediterranean Kitchen, MacArthur Avenue’s latest dining destination, I started with the the fried artichoke hearts with harissa aioli and specially-requested tzatziki sauce; it was simply perfect. The batter managed to be both light and crispy and in just the correct proportion to the rightful star – the artichoke flavor. No stranger to tzatziki, I found the creamy yogurt dip to be some of the best I’ve tasted. C’s spanakopita was a satisfying marriage of spinach and cheese with a tart zing of lemon, wrapped snugly in light and flaky phyllos.
Twice I chose as my entree the grilled salmon sauteed with fresh garlic olive oil and spinach, and it was consistently done right, meaning cooked through enough to quell any fears and reach perfect flakiness, but still moist, tender and mouth-watering, and the garlicky spinach a nice topper.
M’s beef empanadas also passed with flying colors; these were flaky, buttery turnovers stuffed with shredded, very tender beef. E chose the linguine with sun-dried tomato, capers, and artichoke hearts, sauteed with garlic. The three main ingredients were generously served and with robust flavors, the sun-dried tomato the most prominent. ,
Three (count ’em – 3) times I have finished the meal with the Spanish apple tart with Jijona Turron icecream. This is to die for. Period. It was a lovely star-shaped pastry – buttery, light, a little sweet and filled with apples. The texture leaned towards being more like bread than pastry and the ice-cream had a subtly, spicy cinnamon flavor that complemented beautifully.That alone is worth a visit.
Demi’s knows dough (perfect, flaky crusts seem to be a recurring theme). And seafood (grilled to true perfection and high quality). And meat, and flavors (wonderful, subtle combinations with exquisite tastes). Jimmy and Daniella Tsamouras have created a Mediterranean kitchen that does everything right. Service is consistently excellent: friendly and efficient with a good sense of timing, the surroundings are inviting, and there’s a generally nice vibe the moment you walk in the door. And they are open on Sunday nights! Good decision. Let’s keep ’em busy.
Demi’s Mediterranean Kitchen
4017 MacArthur Avenue
Tuesday–Thursday 5-10; Fri-Sat 5-11; Sunday 5-9