3 new and different Mediterranean joints in town

Everyone loves a good spot of Mediterranean now and then. Something about creamy eggplant dips, ocean-fresh seafood and a hearty kebab just works, particularly after a long and routine week of hawker lunches. The local Mediterranean scene has been quietly evolving for some time, amassing new players and influences; it’s not perfect, but it sure is tasty. Here’s what to check out. 

Claypots Full Circle (opened Jun 2018)

, 3 new and different Mediterranean joints in town
Morrocan Claypot

Less about hummus and eggplant dips, Claypots Full Circle celebrates the Mediterranean through its focus on coastal ingredients and fresh seafood. In a cozy corner of Amoy Street, the popular Melbourne franchise that first gained fame in the beachside neighborhood of St Kilda recreates its Turkish-influenced claypot cuisine, sans the claypots and with a distinctive Singaporean touch.

Taste sardines ($12) from the Atlantic and giant mussels ($25) from Port Arlington; both dishes are enhanced with unique spice mixes that marry local Indian and Malay influences. The restaurant’s namesake Moroccan Claypots ($26)—a staple in the Melbourne branches as well—is essentially a tomato-based seafood broth, emboldened with a spiced aroma of paprika and cumin. If you insist on breads and dip, get the Garlic Prawn (market price) on a hotplate, which comes cooking in its own flavorful broth. The actual prawn is juicy, yes, but it’s the heady broth that shines, making a rich dipping sauce for the accompanying Turkish pide bread—soft, warm and indented straight from Melbourne weekly. 103 Amoy St.

Sideways (opened Jul 2018)

, 3 new and different Mediterranean joints in town

This little spot on Rowell Road shares its space with an art gallery; behind a metal sliding door Sideways serves up decently priced, Mediterranean-inspired grub. It used to house barbecue amenities, which explains the industrial décor and exposed brick, plus the large back-kitchen roasting area that’s since been converted into a space for the hand-built, wood-fire brick oven to shine. On it quality sourdough ($4) is churned out on the daily, along with pita bread ($4) and pillowy hamburger buns.

A small menu doesn’t take away from a strong selection of dips. There’s the classic hummus in a smoked eggplant and peppers dip ($7), black bean hummus ($8), and a pesto-leaning minty & feta dip ($9). Each one is smooth, creamy and handmade (what isn’t here?), and as good a standalone dish as it is a starter. Otherwise, the tapas-sized mains like the bone ($12), garlic shrimps ($13), and grilled tagalani cheese ($12) are good options to share. The last in a pancake-shaped, halloumi-style cheese smeared with Greek yogurt and fig jam; weirdly delish. 109 Rowell Rd.

Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar (opened Aug 2018)

, 3 new and different Mediterranean joints in town

The island’s newest addition to the Mediterranean dining scene is a full-service outlet on Boat Quay, extended from the brand’s humble kebab kiosk along Orchard Road. At Pita Tree in Boat Quay, a wide selection of dishes from dips to desserts is available, to thoroughly satisfy any and all cravings.

If you can’t decide between the Spicy Eggplant dip ($8)—eggplant rubbed in red peppers and dried chilli—or the more conventional Hummus and Tzatziki ($8), just get the Mixed Dip Platter ($29) with four dips and four pitas. All the dips and salads here are made with virgin olive oil and natural ingredients like berries, yogurt and saffron—very in keeping with the unprocessed, healthy fat-centric Mediterranean diet.

Mains include classic dishes like lamb shank briyani ($38), Garlic Yoghurt Chicken skewers ($13-$23), and Greek Moussaka ($24)—a lamb casserole with eggplant, potato and béchamel sauce. What you won’t find at some other Mediterranean-leaning restaurants, however, is an equally robust selection of cuisine-correct desserts and drinks; at Pita Tree, there’s the traditional pastry Turkish Baklava ($9), Turkish Coffee ($5), and Persian Mint Tea ($5) to finish your meal. The restaurant also offers buffet set lunches at $17 on weekdays. 14 Lorong Telok.