Me Va Me
Me Va Me is, for many North Yorkers, a neighbourhood institution. Situated in the corner of a strip plaza, the restaurant specializes mainly in Israeli/Middle Eastern cuisine and has proven so popular a sister location for take-out orders was opened nearby to handle the overflow of business.
Loyal patrons rave about Me Va Me's heaping portions as consistently as they bemoan the restaurant's ubiquitous lines; on this evening we predictably experience both. Thankfully, a reservation saves us from standing amongst the jam packed foyer, even though it's past 8 p.m. on a weeknight.
Recently renovated, the family-style restaurant has adopted more contemporary decor these days with beige walls, banquettes and plenty of dark stained wood.
Protein and carbs are the name of the game here, and in the comfort food department Me Va Me does not disappoint. We nosh on some complimentary peppers and a pickle the size of a footlong hot dog while mulling our menus.
We start with the dip appetizer mini combo ($6.99) which consists of pita bread served with your choice of three dipping items. We go for the hummus, beets and baba ganoush.
The pita (sourced it seems) is slightly cold but still soft and eager to accompany the velvety and slightly sweet hummus. The beets are almost preternaturally sweet, as is the baba ganoush, although the eggplant dish has some nice lemony zing to it. The diverse appetizer satisfies despite proving somewhat homogenous in flavour.
All entrees come with a "side" house salad that could easily be a light lunch. The greens are fresh and the lemon honey vinaigrette (either that, or it's a crazy sweet Italian dressing) is again more honey than lemon and vinegar.
My lamb skewers ($18.99) arrive with rice on the side and a container of tzatziki. The two sticks of meat are perfectly cooked medium rare, tender and succulent. They are simply seasoned and the portions are heart-stopping, although I can't help but polish off my plate.
The chicken shawarma ($14.99) is served with a container of hot sauce and mashed potatoes on the side. The chicken is a little dry but otherwise par for the course for this popular dish. The mashed potatoes are unbelievably rich and taste like cream and butter with a dash of potato mixed in rather than the other way around. No complaints here, but be forewarned.
The Jerusalem platter ($14.99) is a mix of sautéed chicken hearts, liver and boneless thigh meat. The platter is savoury goodness, with hints of cumin in each bite of chewy aorta. The fries accompanying the poultry potpourri are definitely the best of our three sides -- freshly fried to a golden crisp, lightly salted and pillowy soft inside.
The service is hit-or-miss depending on the server this night, with individual staff ranging from charming and attentive to amusingly spacey.
It's not an exaggeration to say Me Va Me is insanely popular. The wait times regularly range from 30-45 minutes at basically all times of day, every day of the week, and it's understandable why. The food is, if not spectacular, at least spectacularly consistent; the menu rarely (ever?) changes and you are basically guaranteed to be stuffed silly.
People will pay for reliability. Me Va Me is living proof of that.
Me Va Me is open Sun-Sat (11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.)