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Bateeni Mediterranean Grill & Cafe: Fresh, healthy flavors to savor

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bateeni Mediterranean Grill & Cafe at 1868 W. Arlington Blvd. in Greenville is a healthy escape for those seeking fresh and delicious food that will keep your taste buds and body fulfilled. They offer an array of authentic Mediterranean cuisine using their centuries old traditions of combining ingredients and flavors from all corners of the world.

Mediterranean cuisine lends its name to culinary trends shared by a varied group of people that live in the region around the Mediterranean Sea. The mild climate yields an agricultural bounty that heavily influences the vegetable-dominant cuisines of this region. Main ingredients include olive oil, olives, eggplant, artichokes, squash, tomatoes, legumes, onions, mushrooms, cucumbers and a variety of greens and lettuces. Dominant spices include parsley, sumac, mint and lemon juice that create a unique and tantalizing flavor explosion.

Bateeni brings these robust flavors front and center in every dish it serves. The food is colorful, flavorful and most of all healthy. Noting is processed, everything is made from scratch. Staff adds no sugar and limited salt in their cooking, and they offer the largest gluten-free menu in Greenville. Only three items on their menu actually have gluten, so those with gluten allergies have found a food home to fall in love with at Bateeni.

Owner, Asif Daher and his wife has been running Bateeni in Greenville for over four years. Cooking since the age of 7 and running restaurants for over 15 years, Asif and his staff are committed to serving delicious, fresh food every time. “For those afraid to try Mediterranean for the first time, come in and give it a try, you may be surprised at how much you like it. If you don’t like it, you don’t pay. Not one person yet that has come in has said they didn’t like it,” Daher says.

The diverse menu consists of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, kids items, desserts and authentic drinks with prices ranging from $1.89-$14.95 with most items between $6-$8. You can come on your lunch break, for dinner, or on weekends, and enjoy fresh authentic taste brought from their homeland of Jerusalem directly to your table. All of the spices they use for their traditional dishes come from Jerusalem too!

For my tasting, I started with a vegetarian appetizer that has a style all its own, the stuffed grape leaves served with a taziki dipping sauce. Many of you have heard of a stuffed grape leave, but have probably not ventured out of your food zone and actually tried it. Get over the leaf part for a minute and imagine cooked rice that has been mixed with lemon juice and a bit of spices and mint. Then the mixture is rolled up inside a large dark green grape leaf, then cooked for 3-4 hours on low heat. The rich flavor of the leaf is drawn into the rice mixture giving it a unique taste. Grab one, dip it into the cool and refreshing taziki sauce made with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, mint and cucumbers and fall in love with the healthy, delicious flavor it offers up. The cooked leaf has a slight collard green taste, the seasoned rice is warm and fragrant, then you get a cool cucumber finish from the dip. It’s a tasty little snack perfect for a quick lunch, a start to your dinner, or a great addition to your tapas table.

Next, I decided to try a Bateeni’s crowd favorite, The Mixed Grill that is made in their traditional family-style way. The Mixed Grill contains one lamb kabob, one chicken kabob and one Kuftah kabob over a mound of seasoned rice served with a Greek salad side. First, you should know that Bateeni raises their own lambs right outside Greenville, so the meat is fresh and locally sourced. Local lamb equals a better, fresher meat. And for those that are not sure what a Kuftah Kabob is, it’s a mixture of ground beef, parsley, onions, green peppers, and seasoning that is grilled just like the chicken and lamb kabobs are. The rice is seasoned with herbs, saffron, ginger and turmeric. It has a soft yellow color and its ingredients make it super potent and healthy — a cancer-fighting side attraction everyone will fall in love with. It was so delicious, I had to stop eating the rice so I could try the meats. The chicken kabob was juicy and tasty, the lamb kabob mild, yet rich at the same time, and the Kuftah kabob was robust and tasted like a cross between an Italian meatball and meatloaf, with a hint of sweet from the green peppers.

The Greek salad is the bow tie for this dish and was as always bursting with flavors for every taste bud you have. You get a salty brine from the Kalamata olives, sweet from the peppers and tomatoes, fresh, cool cucumber flavor mixed with crunchy red onions and tangy hunks of feta cheese. The salad is drizzled with a light vinaigrette based Greek dressing with herbs and spices. Their salads are hand chopped fresh every time and made right when you order, so every salad you get is first rate.

I decided to end my meal with a sweet, yet healthy finish and tried the Knafa. This unique dish starts with a bottom layer of sweet white cheese that is topped with a thin layer of shredded filo dough then drizzled with honey and topped with crushed pistachios. This dish is fragrant and warm and when you take a bite, you get a soft and slightly sweet tang from the mild cheese that’s texture and flavor is a cross between a cream cheese and mild mozzarella. Then you get a crunchy flavor from the fillo and then it ends with a sweet honey and pistachio finish. It was a surprising delicious end to my tasting. Other authentic desserts include the Baklava which is a layered dessert bar made with luscious layers of fillo dough with honey and nuts. It’s one of my all-time favorite desserts ever. Or try the Fanana, which is a banana wrapped in a tortilla, deep fried and served with dipping sauce. They are all incredibly divine and a perfect end to any meal.

Bateeni also offers daily specials. Monday/Thursday enjoy a Falafal Sandwich with fries for $4.99; Tuesday is the Chicken Shawarma sandwich with fries for $4.99; or enjoy the incredible Gyros with fries for $4.99 on Wednesdays. Bateeni is also available to cater your next event. They have a large catering menu and can accommodate your next in-house or off-site event with ease giving you family style options to fit any budget. Why not give your next party a healthy spin and choose food from Bateeni. They are open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, call (252) 689-6222 or visit their website www.bateeni.com.

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Humans of Greenville

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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