There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Capers Mediterranean Buffet and Bistro
6317 N. Meridian
What works: There is a wide selection of food that you normally don’t see on a buffet.
What needs work: The food goes fast. Larger quantities of popular items might help.
Tip(s): Start with a salad before going right to the meats.
I took my very first date to a buffet. Her name was Sarah, and I thought she was just the prettiest thing since ever.
That night, I learned a hard lesson about women and buffets: They probably should not meet.
At least not on a first date. Simply saying the word “buffet” can conjure images of overweight people filling their plates with bourbon chicken, cheese pizza and mashed potatoes, usually at the same time, gorging to the point of discomfort — not the most romantic scenario.
In recent years, however, that stigma has lifted as classier joints have jumped on the buffet bandwagon.
The latest to offer mass-quantity consuming is Capers Mediterranean Buffet and Bistro, located where Catfish Cabin used to be.
Offering an amazing assortment of Greek and Middle Eastern food, it’s the type of buffet ($8.99 for lunch, $11.99 for dinner) you’d be proud to take a date.
For my first trip to the buffet line, I started with hummus, tabbouleh, Greek salad, dolmas and falafels. The hummus was creamy and not at all gritty, perfect for slathering on my fresh pita bread.
The tabbouleh had a wonderfully unexpected minty kick, as did the Greek salad, which was vinegary and tangy. The dolmas — grape leaves stuffed with rice, onions and parsley — was a revelation, sweet and sour, with a mouth-puckering bite. And the falafel was crunchy, but with a surprisingly sweet taste that I’ve never had before. I downed about four of them in one go, and it was worth it.
Appetizers out of the way, I went in for the money meats, covering every inch of white space on my plate with chicken shawarma, kafta kabobs, braised beef and rotisserie saffron chicken, with a side of yellow curry potato salad and baba ghanoush.
The shawarma had a nice grilled flavor, as did the kafta, which, in retrospect, reminded me of a well-seasoned sirloin steak.
The braised beef and saffron chicken were extra juicy and tender. The baba ghanoush was decent, but the yellow curry potato salad was truly amazing, and I want it to replace regular potato salad in my diet.
For the sake of this review, I had to go back one more time. At Capers, you sometimes have to move fast because the other patrons might get to something first, and the time and effort it takes to craft these specialty favorites means it might not be there when you’re ready for another trip.
It’s a date!
So for this last and final go-round, I sampled the cast-iron chicken, stewed baby okra, fried cauliflower, green bean sharmoula and the potato Lyonnais, as well as made myself a gyro or two. OK, three.
Without a doubt, my favorite dishes were the cast-iron chicken and the gyros. The chicken was subtly spiced and fried to golden-brown, outshining most chicken joints around town.
I happily would have paid for a bucket of that goodness, along with some of that yellow curry potato salad as a side.
And the gyros — oh, those gyros!
Freshly baked pitas, moist and fla- vorful lamb and beef, topped with crumbly feta, maybe even just a helping of Greek salad — the tops.
There were plenty of desserts, too, including rice pudding and fresh fruit, but I was done. I was full. This Greek ship had sailed.
I understand if a buffet isn’t your thing, as does Capers. Almost all the buffet items are also available as stand-alone dishes on the menu — all at reasonable prices — along with exclusive specialties including whole lamb meshoui, stuffed salmon fillets and Greek-style pizzas.
With its unique approach, Caper’s would be a nice, classy place to bring a date. Maybe not a first date, but possibly a fifth or sixth.
And if your date happens to recommend Caper’s without your saying anything, don’t hesitate to put a ring on it, because that one’s a keeper.