The sun was setting on a peaceful but busy Saturday afternoon in San Clemente. I arrived at Village Mediterranean Rim* with my boyfriend, Fred, promptly at 6 pm & we were greeted after a few seconds. We were seated at a two top table & waited for someone to come around with the menu. Meanwhile, I eyed the place.
The interior was small, dimly lit, & packed. At any given time every table was occupied save for one. With low ceilings & many people, there was a constant bustle of chatter. I found myself leaning closer to Fred in order to hear anything he said or vice versa. Everyone seemed joyful, smiling, talking. One couple stared into each others eyes as they held hands from across the table. The outside patio with two small tables was filled with beautiful foliage — my favorite spot of the restaurant.
Our server was John. He was attentive & glad to answer any questions, which there were many of. I consulted with him on what to get or if he had any particular recommendations. He was able to reply to my inquiries & make vegetarian-friendly suggestions.
We began with the Chermoula Dip appetizer. It's a small plate but packs mean punch of flavor. The chermoula comes with roasted pepper, harissa (hot chili pepper paste), cilantro, almonds, & pita. The bits of almond gave it the perfect amount of crunch while the harissa supplied a kick.
We got the special of the evening — the Roasted Asparagus & Farro Salad with Italian parsley, baby greens, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, feta cheese, & of course, asparagus & farro. The asparagus was soft & smoky, while the farro added texture. This harmonious rainbow of ingredients created a complex, satisfactory salad.
As a complement to our food, we tried the Rio Madre Graciano Rioja, a full-bodied red wine. It went down mercifully, every sip better than the previous one. It paired gloriously well with the main course.
For the main course, we tried the Vegetable Tagine with a side of the house made gnocchi instead of the couscous, as per John's recommendation. Tagine is a slow cooked Moroccan stew. The vegetable version came with organic seasonal veggies, walnuts, olives, dried apricots, figs, & Moroccan curry sauce.
I got goosebumps eating the gnocchi & its creamy, cheesy sauce; it was incredibly rich, thick, & cheese-tastic. Although the creamy gnocchi & curried veggies seemed like an odd combination, it turned into a peaceful mixture.
Upon consulting with John once more, we decided to go with the Chocolate Pistachio Torte with marscarpone cream & berry compote. It looked exceedingly rich but was surprisingly light & airy. The berry compote was striking; I wish I had a jar of the stuff.
Overall, my experience was an exceedingly pleasant one. Village Mediterranean Rim contributed to the perfect date night. I would recommend taking a seat outside to relieve yourself from some of the noise & heat of a packed restaurant. Both Fred & I agreed that our favorite dishes were the Roasted Asparagus & Farro Salad as well as the gnocchi.
Which food looks the most scrumptious? Would you ever visit Village Mediterranean Rim? :]