BEND, OR: joolz is a Jewel!

During a recent visit to Bend, my wife and I decided to explore the downtown area in search of an interesting dinner venue. We found joolz, an establishment that serves up some pretty authentic Mediterranean food at very reasonable prices

The restaurant’s positioning statement, “Where mezze meets the mesa,” was a bit puzzling until I learned that “mezze” is a selection of small dishes served in the Mediterranean and Middle East as an appetizer course. Small plates – “mezze” – were exactly what we were after!

Even though we did not have a reservation we were seated immediately, which was a pleasant surprise on a Saturday night. Another restaurant we’d considered had a 45-minute wait, so we were happy to be ushered to our booth quickly.

The restaurant’s interior is decorated in rich fabrics and long, flowing curtains that evoke the feel of a Bedouin tent -- in keeping with its Mediterranean menu offerings.

Our server arrived quickly, brought our bottle of Nobilo Icon (extremely well-priced at $25 a bottle), then gave us some time to peruse the menu.

We enjoyed spiced olives, kibbe (Lebanese meatballs made of beef and lamb and simmered in sauce), hummus, and oven-roasted cauliflower. A lemon tahini sauce gave the cauliflower a special tang, and the abundant pita bread that came with the hummus gave us plenty to nibble with every course. Total bill with wine (before tip): $55!

Our server – attentive without being intrusive – left us to linger over our wine and nibbles, then brought the check promptly when we were finally ready to go. We were in no hurry to leave, but we will certainly hurry back!

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