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Whitewood Mediterranean Grill

Whitewood_1Another restaurant that seemed to be in development for an unusually long time, just as reported recently with the eventual debut of Holy Smoke BBQ, opened recently in downtown Orlando. Unlike the hapless HS BBQ, however, Whitewood Mediterranean was worth the wait.

Whitewood occupies a small yet prime piece of real estate on the corner of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard. There are tables inside and a few outside that use the sidewalk on both sides. The dining room is spartan, but it is clean and bright.

This is basically a quick-serve set-up where you order at the counter then take a seat wherever you can. When your food is ready, someone will bring it out to you.

During a recent visit, I lunched with a friend who keeps stricly vegan. He was pleased to see that there were several options designated as vegan on the menu, rather than having to try to glean something from this or that. He selected the falafel wrap and I went for the gyro, but I ordered it "Dubai style."

Apparently in Dubai they shove fries into the pita along with the meats and other usual stuffings. I'm OK with that in theory, but I don't think these particular fries added anything to the enjoyment. But enjoy it I did. The lamb and beef were well seasoned and plentiful, and the tzatziki sauce added a cool flavor note.

The falafel was also quite good, if slightly unusual in that it was done as a pressed sandwich rather than simply wrapped. But the advantage to doing it this way seems to be that pressing it kept the chickpea fritters intact (they tend to crumble under normal conditions).

Neither one of us was all that thrilled with the baba ghanouj, which lacked characteristic flavors and had an unusual elastic-like texture, almost as if it included melted cheese.

The staff has a businesslike manner but were welcoming and efficient. The decor features a lot of white marble, and the wall along the entryway has embedded tiles that give the place the appearance of a franchise -- or a place that would like to be one someday. No problem with that. There should be more places that offer good quality and value.

Whitewood Mediterranean Grill is at 1 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, until 3 a.m. on weekends. There currently is no website. The phone number is 407-999-8959.

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Wednesday, 3rd September 2014

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