UPDATE: This restaurant is now closed.
I love Eastern Mediterranean food. There’s nothing like pita and hummus for a snack, and kabobs, olives, rice, and falafel make a perfect meal, especially when rounded out with baklava. So, I was thrilled to see that a Lebanese restaurant had opened on Wade Hampton Boulevard in Greer, within striking distance for lunch.
The Rolled Pita is located in the corner of a small strip mall near the old Allen-Bennett Hospital. For a long time it went unnoticed, with only a small sign proclaiming “Lebanese Restaurant.” I didn’t even spot it until they renamed the place and put up a larger sign. That was last Friday, so Wednesday I decided to give it a try.
If it were a Greek place, I probably would have described it as “spartan” just to be witty. This goes beyond spartan. There are just a few tables in a surprisingly large area. The restaurant actually takes up two spaces at the mall, with the second space serving as a fish market. Unfortunately, the place reeks of fish, and I almost turn around and walk out.
There is a counter and display case in the main room which I assume to be the actual restaurant. It’s covered with brightly colored hookahs, the only real splash in the place.
At this point I’m a bit confused. I know the sign says “restaurant” and there are tables and menus. However, the signs outside advertise fresh seafood, and two hookahs flank the other entrance. From the outside I wouldn’t know if this were a seafood store, smoking shop, or eatery.
One other couple is seated when I arrive. The owner is seated at another table talking strategy with some consultant. Apparently they are just getting started, so I shouldn’t be too hard on them until the place takes on its true form.
The menu is extensive, and has a nice selection of appetizers, salads, pies, platters, and sandwiches. There are kabobs, hummus, taboule, fattoush, and other traditional platters. The platters hover around the $10 mark for the dinner plates, and a couple of dollars less for the lunch plates. There is also a nice selection of vegan platters as well as a selection of fried seafood. For some reason, chicken fingers are listed under this heading.
For lighter meals there is a selection of rolled pitas, from which the restaurant takes its name. The description makes these sound like gyros with interesting ingredients besides lamb. These run from $4 – $6. An additional $2.50 will get you fries and a drink with the sandwich.
I ordered the shishtawook. Basically, it’s the chicken version of a kabob. Small pieces of marinated grilled chicken were served over rice with a side of hummus. This was served with a flat bread and a small bit of garlic sauce for the chicken.
The flavors were excellent. The chicken was savory, especially with a light bit of the garlic sauce, and the rice and a sweet-savory flavor that blended well. The hummus had a bit too much olive oil, but was otherwise quite good.
As I was leaving, on impulse I bought a small piece of pistachio baklava to go. It was very tasty – not too sweet, and not as syrupy sticky as some of the Greek versions.
Service was friendly, quick and efficient. The waitress was ready to answer questions I had about some of the dishes, especially about the garlic sauce that arrived with the meal.
The food was excellent, and quite reasonably priced for lunch or dinner. The biggest drawback is the overwhelming fish smell, which could ruin a meal. I even heard another customer mentioned it upon arrival. Until they get that resolved, they are in trouble. I guess the best thing to do would be to call ahead, get it to go, and take it somewhere else. Unfortunately, the Rolled Pita is at the extreme edge of my comfortable lunch range, so getting it to go isn’t an option.
Will I be back? Most likely. However, simple location and logistics means it’s not going to be on my regular rotation of lunch eateries.