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New and good Mediterranean Restaurant in Naperville

  • c

In the Iroquois Mall (1163 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville) space formerly occupied by City Grille, a new and promising restaurant has opened: Laurel Mediterranean Grill. The space has been completely re-modeled so it is not the dark atmosphere of the previous tenant. You can see the new space. menu, etc., at their website http://www.laurelgrill.com

Mediterranean in this case includes dishes from the "Levant' - Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, etc.,
Laurel just opened Monday, November 16, and we hope advertising and word of mouth will help their business to grow. Food is excellent (Liquor license was not awarded on opening night but should have been received by now).

As starters,we tried Lahmacun (Turkish flatbread spread with fine minced veal, served with tomatoes and parsley- $4) and it was both flavorful and delicious. Next we ate Mucver (patties of shreddied zucchini and kaseri cheese served with yogurt - $7). Then on to very tasty grilled baby octopus - $8 - and Imam Bayildi (baked baby eggplant with pine nuts, tomato, and caramelized onions - $6

)

Every dish was delectable and some items were completely new to us. For main courses, we had a grilled sea bass (very fresh and sweet tasting - market price on Monday was $20) and a large lamb shank Hunkar Begendi served on an unusual and flavorful egplant/garlic puree.

All starters (mezze) whether hot or cold range from $4 to $8; a tasting platter of eggplant, calamari salad, hummus, artichokes, spring beans "plaki', feta cheese, pastirma and assorted olives is offered at $12. Soups and salads are offered at $4-7. Entrees run mostly $14-18, with steaks and lamb chops in the $20-24 range.

We highly recommend a visit to Laurel by anyone interested in Middle Eastern food. This place is not a fancy NafNaf (which is just down the road) but a destination place for good food prepared very well.

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    1. re: LikestoEatout

      Thanks for the chuckle! Just trying to say Laurel is at a much higher level of food preparation and ambiance but you sure made me laugh.

      1. re: CJT

        ;-) I looked at the website and I think we are going to try Laurel on Sunday...looks promising! As far as Naf Naf, I'm looking forward to their move to a better space, I like the food but it can get a tad over crowded. Naperville certainly has become a destination for a good variety of ethnic foods....far different when I worked at City Hall in 1975 and the only excitement downtown was Burger King on Washington!

        1. re: LikestoEatout

          This is great news - we can really use a good Mediterranian restaurant in Naperville.

          1. re: Hensley

            Try Laurel and let us know what you think. We need to support restaurants that do a good job. I think Macarena Tapas in Naperville (corner of Route 59 and Aurora Ave), Allgauer's in the Lisle Hilton, Catch 35 in downtown, Katy's Dumpling House, and several others all deserve that kind of support.

    2. We went there for lunch today and loved everything about it. The food, atmosphere and service was exceptional. We hope this restaurant succeeds as we plan to return...soon!

      1. Looking at the menu, it doesn't look terribly Mediterranean to me... the recipes seem to simply be American fare made with lemon, olive oil, and garlic. Fries with garlic yogurt? New York Strip? Lake Superior Whitefish?

        I'm not arguing that the food didn't taste good, but to me, the menu looks like a fairly pale representation of actual Mediterranean cuisine. Any thoughts on this?

        3 Replies
        1. re: bourj

          agree.
          also, i was excited by the Hunkar Begendi, but the menu says its served with garlic mashed potatoes??? umm. no.
          it is obviously turkish owned, it would be amazing if they fully focused on that..

          1. re: zoona

            The owner is Turkish, so expect him to lean in that direction. As for steak and whitefish, I'm sure there will be individuals in a group of diners there who would not want to try the turkish dishes, so these offer an alternative for them. Rate the food, please, not the menu.

            1. re: CJT

              Last weekend, we had a family celebration (9 adults) which normally takes place each year in Greektown (we live in Naperville so that’s 30 miles drive each way). To avoid the drive yet feast on food with a Mediterranean base, we arranged our dinner for Laurel Grill and it was a great success. I worked out a menu with Sam, the owner of Laurel, and he delivered an excellent combination of plates with copious amounts of food.
              We started with Imam Bayildi (baby eggplant filled with tomatoes and caramelized onions with pinenuts, all in olive oil). Baskets with fresh baked flavorful bread were on the table and we then had hummus and pita to enjoy, along with a lovely, non-salty feta cheese served with banana peppers, tomatoes and olives. Next came lightly fried calamari with creamy dipping sauce.
              Two salads were presented: “country tomato salad” was slices of tomatoes with cucumbers, peppers, onions, and feta; then we had “Laurel Salad” with arugula, baby spinach, radicchio, caramelized onions in a dressing made with olive oil and pomegranate syrup. Both were excellent.
              Main course was 3 kinds of kebab: Adana was minced beef and lamb on skewers with spicy chili peppers, Chicken was breast meat served with Israeli cous-cous which was really flavorful, and Lamb served with rice pilaf, sweet chili peppers and sea salt. We also had some excellent Köfte (ground beef patties). What made all the kebabs and meat enjoyable is that they are not cooked directly on grill grates but are cooked above the grill so they receive heat but do not stick to the grates or cause burned meat on the skewers. Also offered were French fries and other grilled vegetables. On the platters we also had some grilled vegetables.
              After all this food, we had a light dessert of tulumba (fried dough balls in sweet syrup) and another dish whose name escapes me. The entire family was most pleased with the food, presentation, and service.
              We no longer see a reason for traveling to Greektown for our annual feast and will repeat our meal at Laurel again next year.

        2. I just took my daughter to laurel grill in naperville, after reading these posts. We started with the fried calamari. It was very tender, and came with mariara sauce, and garlic mayo. I then had the laurel salad, which was mixed greens with caramelized pecans. The salad was too salty. When I told the server, he came back and said they would take it off the bill, and also add a complimentary dessert. I then had the scallops and garlic mashed potatoes. The scallops came in a creamy red sauce that was mildly spicy, perfectly cooked. My daughter had seafood the seafood linguini, which had shrimp, scallops and mussels. The sauce was an alfredo type sauce. I also ordered the side dish of grilled vegetables. I should also mentioned that they gave us a starter of bread and an eggplant dish. The complimentary dessert had a small piece of flan, which was a bit more like cheesecake, strawberries and creme fraiche, and little fried dough things in syrup, which I did not like. All in all, I would say it was an excellent experience, apart from the salty salad. But I felt that we were fairly treated, and everything else was absolutely wonderful. I was happy to experience a restaurant where you can at least make an attempt to eat healthy, with plenty of vegetables. I also liked the fact that you can order middle eastern, or not. Service was excellent. Attentive but not hovering.