Munch goes to Daphne Cafe
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Munch will do nearly anything for good food. Munch will travel far and wide. Munch will pay large sums from a journalist's meager salary. Munch has even accepted food from total strangers on the street.
But Munch draws the line at endlessly circling the streets of Shadyside, searching for a parking space. Normally when Munch goes to Shadyside, it involves a lot of quick braking at driveways, realizing it's not a parking space, banging fists off the steering wheel, then continuing to drive, stomach growling.
So when Munch decided on dinner at Daphne Cafe, a Mediterranean and Turkish restaurant on Ellsworth Avenue, Munch left early to leave enough time for the inevitable driving, braking and cursing that comes before actually parking.
But on this day, Munch pulled up in front of Daphne Cafe just as another car was pulling out. Munch secured a spot right in front of the restaurant within minutes of beginning the parking search.
This meal was meant to be.
Munch was joined by Stressed Out Colleague of Munch, who was not as fortunate with parking but excited about a free meal.
Unable to decide on just one starter, Munch made the executive decision to begin with the mixed appetizer platter, a combination of three appetizers of your choice ($9.95). Munch chose hummus, Mediterranean dip (roasted red peppers, feta cheese, walnuts and extra virgin olive oil) and Ezme salad, a mixture of minced tomatoes, hot spices, garlic, onions, olive oil and lemon juice.
The hummus was serviceable but not remarkable. The Mediterranean dip was delicious -- briny and peppery and nutty. The Ezme salad was a bit of a letdown; Munch had hoped the "hot spices" would be more prominent. But the trio of appetizers and warm pita hit the spot at the beginning of a late dinner.
Munch was tempted by the gyros and shish kebab, but after the hearty appetizers, Munch decided on something lighter for dinner -- the fresh mozzarella salad ($7.95). SOCOM, a native West Virginian, decided on the Daphne panini because of its similarity to the pepperoni roll, a West Virginia delicacy. The panini comes with provolone cheese, tomatoes, beef pepperoni and a "special red sauce" on a French bun ($7.95). Munch also ordered a three-cheese panini ($7.95) and an order of Daphne special spicy tabulleh ($4.95) to take home to Dear One of Munch.
The mozzarella salad was indeed fresh but more of a tomato salad than a mozzarella salad, but given the large appetizers, Munch was OK with an entree that was light on the cheese. SOCOM enjoyed half of her Turkish pepperoni roll and saved the other half for the next day's breakfast. DOOM said the three-cheese panini wasn't terribly exciting, but the tabulleh made up for it.
Daphne Cafe is a small shop with just a few tables, about half of which were occupied when Munch arrived. Service was friendly if a bit spotty, but it's clearly a family-run joint -- the same man who took our order was also rushing in and out of the kitchen and helping to bring in outdoor furniture toward the end of the night.
SOCOM, who considers herself to be a rice pudding connoisseur, said we had to get dessert. SOCOM ordered the rice pudding ($4.95) and Munch asked for baklava, but the woman who took our orders -- she said she was the chef -- gently nudged Munch toward the "pistachio wrap," which is baklava made with pistachios instead of walnuts ($5.95).
SOCOM heartily approved of the rice pudding, but the pistachio baklava was positively divine. Like, drive-around-for-40-minutes-to-find-a-parking-space divine.
First Published July 26, 2012 12:00 am