Jasmine Adds Mediterranean Flavors to Region

Article excerpt

Background

Jasmine Mediterranean Restaurant is the latest addition to restaurateur Ed Dunlap's Culinary Concepts collection of area restaurants that include Le Mont in Mt. Washington, Le Pommier in the South Side, Pazzo in Mt. Lebanon and Cafe Euro in the U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown.

Before its October opening as Jasmine, the restaurant space had long been operated as the landmark steakhouse, The Colony, then operated under the Culinary Concepts banner first as a second Cafe Euro restaurant and then as a banquet facility.

Assistant manager Brendan Torpey says the switch to Mediterranean cuisine fills a culinary gap in the Mt. Lebanon area.

"There's a demand for it in the area, and people are looking for Mediterranean food and vegetarian items that are not greasy or fried," Torpey says.

Kitchen manager Kari Buckoski, who has been with Jasmine since its opening, oversees the kitchen, which Torpey says is in transition during a search for a new chef. For now, Buckoski, who trained at the Pittsburgh Culinary Institute, is splitting her time between Jasmine and the Rivers Club, where she works as a chef.

Atmosphere

A fine dining experience in a casual setting that's family friendly and has great service is what Jasmine strives to produce, Torpey says. The waitstaff appears to be uniformly young, friendly and enthusiastic. They're also knowledgeable about items and ingredients on the dinner menu but less well-versed about the wine list.

Though the menu is firmly anchored in traditional Middle Eastern cuisine such as pita wraps, kabobs, grape leaves and hummus, it's not reflected in the decor.

Although some paintings offer suggestions of European locales along the Mediterranean, the gilded mirrors, heavy striped draperies and bare table tops could have adorned any number of settings in the past decade or so.

Service is swift and food arrives hot and fresh from ovens, grills and pans, which is always a plus.

Menu

There are few surprises on the menu, which for the most part sticks to the standbys you expect to find in a Middle Eastern restaurant.

But some of those items are nicely done. …