Friday, July 20, 2012

The Mess that is Mezza

The Hungry Lady has been known to be cranky.  Usually after a little time alone, she uncrankifies and proceeds to be her usual upbeat self.  There are two times when she is crankier than normal: 1. Pre-caffeine. A good word of advice?  If you ever see me before I've had at least one cup of coffee, don't talk to me.  It's really in your best interest.  2. Low blood sugar.  Like most people, I get really cranky when I haven't eaten. Three bites of food or so later, and I'm back to myself.

Today I went out to lunch with R.  We went around 1 p.m. so we could avoid the insane lunch rush in the Vista.  As you can imagine, by 1ish, I was rapidly approaching low blood sugar levels of crankiness. But I wasn't worried.  We were headed to Mezza, so I figured I'd be appeased in about 15 minutes.  I've had Mezza on my list of places to go since they opened about a year and a half ago.  I've heard great things about the food from some trusted sources, so I was pretty excited.

Alas, my excitement was not to last.  We strolled in to Mezza around 1, and were greeted by the bartender who told us to sit anywhere.  We grabbed a table (there were only 6 other tables with patrons), and waited for our server to come over.  She came over pretty fast and dropped off some menus, and then walked away.  Without taking our drink order.  Hmmm....R and I finally decided on what to order - he was having the Beef Shawarma wrap, I was going to have the Kafta Kebab wrap, and we were going to split some Phoenician Fries..  Simple, easy, quick, right?  Wrong.

We placed our order somewhere between 1:05 and 1:10.  By 1:30, we still didn't have food, nor had we been told that there was a delay.  By 1:40, when our server came back to refill R's sweet tea, we just asked for our food to go, and for our check.  At 1:50, when R was supposed to be back at work, and I had about 5 minutes left on my break, we finally got our food   For those of you who aren't good with math, it took us between 40 and 45 minutes to get our food.  There were 7 tables in the restaurant with patrons, 2 of which had already eaten, and 2 of which came in after us.  Unacceptable, even with the profuse apologies of our waitress.

By this point, I'm in the full throes of I NEED TO EAT crankiness.  We take our to go boxes, R drops me off at my office, and I head inside, fully prepared to devour my kebab and fries.  I opened my box, and this is what I saw.

What is wrong with this picture?
I am fairly confident that this isn't, in fact, a kafta kebab wrap.  I did a quick Google Image search just to be sure.  Looks like I was correct.

Photo via Good Foods blog 
Naturally, I immediately text R to tell him that after everything, I got the wrong order.  He replied that he had gotten a burger instead of the wrap he ordered.  And, on top of all of that, he said that the burger was almost 100% raw.  Not rare.  Raw.  Pretty sure that amounts to some sort of health code violation, though I'm not really up on my DHEC rules and regulations.

Because I was utterly ravenous (and likely to bite the head off of anyone who looks at me), I decided to dig in to what could only be someone else's much anticipated lunch.  Hope whomever it belonged to enjoyed my kafta kebab.  

I started with the fries.  They were alright.  The lemon and feta flavors were a great combination.  Unfortunately, the fries themselves were oily and a little floppy.  Plus, by the time I got to eat them (literally 7 minutes after I left Mezza), they were starting to get cold.  Then I tried whatever it was that was in my box.  I think it was either the Manakish Cheese or the Manakish Zaatar.  Again, decent flavors.  But the flat bread was mushy, and the cheese had congealed.  Not at all appetizing.  So really, after all of this, I ended up having french fries for lunch.  And for the record, I'm still starving.

When we asked for our check and our food to-go, we also each ordered baklava to go.  I love baklava, and had really been looking forward to a mid-afternoon sweet snack.  To add insult to injury, they were out of baklava.  It's the only dessert on the menu.  How do you run out?!?!?!?  See...there's that crankiness again.  This is what happens when you take the Hungry Lady off of her normal feeding schedule.

To recap: We waited 40-45 minutes for food, no baklava, incorrect orders, raw burger, congealed cheese, and I'M STILL HUNGRY!!!  Ahem.  I wouldn't be in this state, had I gotten the correct order in a timely fashion.  Speaking of timely fashions, how in the world are you a restaurant in an area that caters to a pretty intense lunch crowd, yet still can't manage to produce food in the time that most people have for lunch?

The slow service could have been dealt with - if the food had been good.  But it wasn't.  I was so disappointed, and really rather disgusted.  I can safely say that I will never be returning to Mezza (seriously.  Even if they offered me free meals for life.  It was just bad).  That said, I know a few people who liked it.  So maybe you should try it for yourself instead of just taking my word on it.  I had a terrible experience.  But yours may be better.

Of course, consistency in food and service quality are pretty important in the restaurant world, so maybe Mezza should work on that?

Final Rating

You can find Mezza on Facebook, Twitter, or the web.

Mezza Lebanese Bistro and Hookah Lounge on Urbanspoon


  1. it's a real shame that you are such a low life that you have to use your site to bash a restaurant. Maybe they had something happen with a staff member? Maybe a family tragedy? You've been once. Once. Ok, it wasn't good. And it might not be a good restaurant. But do you own a restaurant? Know what it's like? No, you don't. You are a shameful person. Get a life.

    1. I'm sorry you feel that way, but you do know this is a review site, correct? It's not the first negative review I've written, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

      You're correct - I don't own a restaurant. But I eat at a lot of them. I have NEVER had an experience as bad as I did for lunch at Mezza. If the kitchen was backed up, all our server needed to do was tell us so that we could have made alternate arrangements - maybe go somewhere else, or maybe call our respective jobs to let them know we'd be late. And then to serve us the wrong orders? Unacceptable. Had we had the time to sit and eat in, we would have requested they be sent back. Since we had to take them to go, we didn't check them, since we assumed that the restaurant would get the order correct.

      Also, I've been in situations where I've worked through a family tragedy. Several times, in fact. In that situation, you have to be professional enough to put it out of your head and focus on work, especially if you're in a customer service field. I know it's not easy, but it can be done. And if it's affecting the flow of things, again, all that was needed was for someone to tell us that they were backed up.

      If you read the entire review, you'd see that I said that I had known a few people who liked it, and suggested that my readers not take my word for it since I was only there once, but rather try it for themselves and see.

      Finally, I would like to repeat that this is a review blog. If I have a bad experience, I'm not going to lie about it. This does not make me a low life or a shameful person, but rather an honest one. And one who is happy to own up to her opinions, as opposed to someone who chooses to leave a nasty and insulting comment anonymously on a blog.

    2. Nice try, Mezza owner.

    3. The owner is very unprofessional & rude , he gets wasted regularly during evening hours & is very unorganized with events ...I am not surprised they closed! He lost a lot of good employees, the old staff was fabulous ! I was impressed with the place when I first went in, but it soon went down hill...The owners wife is SUPER SWEET & a class act I might add , so no slight against her!

  2. Giggle, awww your first heckler! How quaint! ;)


  3. Looks like someone from Mezza saw this! Haha. Personally, I think Al-Amir is the best Mediterranean cuisine in Columbia. We need to have more restaurants to put pressure on each other to improve service and stay competitive.

  4. My experience at Mezza was not great either. The falafel was burnt on the outside, and the inside was gritty and not tasty. The flatbread and grilled Halloumi were OK, nothing special. I enjoyed trying the Lebanese beer and the wine I had was also good, although a bit pricey.