New restaurant trend "Mediterranean" assembly line

There’s a new Poke Rita place near me set up like this that I quite like. I’m not sure if I’d call it fast, but that just may be the newness, people in front of me always seem to be figuring it out.

I think it’s impossible to separate the origin of the Mediterranean assembly line restaurants from the origin of all the other assembly line restaurants. It wasn’t as though nobody was able to look at the assembly line restaurants of one cuisine and see that other cuisines could be done this way. It’s clear to me that the people opening new chains like these saw other restaurants like them and immediately decided that this would work for many cuisines. This type of restaurant has exploded in the past five years. I’ve seen pizza, Thai/Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican, sandwiches, Italian, Mediterranean, salad, hamburgers, Japanese, and miscellaneous mixtures of cuisines done this way.

no, I hate it.

We have awesome Middle Eastern food everywhere here, but I’ve not seen one of these assembly line places. Do you have an example?

I’ve never heard of ‘Ottoman’ cuisine (is that a US term?) but surely Ottoman is Turkish.

What is described in the OP sounds like a general mishmash of Eastern Med inspired cuisine to me (everything from Greek, Turkish, Lebanese and beyond). Just calling it Mediterranean seems strange, as to me that includes Spain, Italy, Southern France, Morocco and on and on.

In my experience, when somebody here in the US says “Mediterranean cuisine,” it does usually refer to Eastern Mediterranean.

Or in other words, Israeli food.

Most of the restaurants linked in this thread look Israeli to me, based on their menus. The use of the term “Mediterranean” for the cuisine is also a big hint, as that’s how Israelis refer to the cuisine.

And yes, assembly is common in Israeli restaurants, as is use of word “mezze” (or “mazetim” in Hebrew.

Actually, the food seems more like Greek to me. Greek food has been pretty standard in the U.S. for a long time. Sometimes it seems Lebanese. I don’t think that any of those - Israeli, Greek, or Lebanese - are so different from each other that you could tell immediately which one an American restaurant (that wasn’t trying for real authenticity to a given country) was going for.


There’s a local Greek/Lebanese mini-chain called Serop’s in the Baton Rouge, LA area. One of their locations, in downtown Baton Rouge, is called ‘Serop’s Express’ and has been serving assembly-line style since at least the early 2000s.

I went to Poke Lab in Monterey last weekend. It’s set up like this, too. I’m not sure if this is a chain or not, but it looks like one. Or maybe they are planning to franchise.

Assuming the fish is fresh (which is what they claim), it’s a pretty good deal. I had a big poke plate with ahi and salmon for about $15. It would have been cheaper, but I added seaweed salad for (IIRC) about $3.

Aha! Early adopter spotted.

The Ottoman empire penumbrated the modern Turkish state, but they are hardly synonyms.

“Mediterranean” is a bowdlerization to avoid negative political associations with the Levant. I don’t particularly like it but it has no effect on the taste of the food.

Here’s a list of cuisines with Ottoman influence

“Ottoman cuisine” is not in common use in the U.S. but I don’t think that was the point. I think Quimper was saying that what we usually encounter as (most commonly in the U.S.) Greek, Lebanese, Persian/Iranian, or Middle Eastern cuisine is really part of something larger, which can be called Ottoman.

Turkey and roast beef.

I know this because my daughter had volunteered to bring gyros in for her class, which she mentioned at exactly the sort of time you’d expect for a sitcom. I thus picked up an assortment of gyros from Arby’s while driving to her school – which, granted, wasn’t the best imaginable move; but which went over plenty better with those kids than the olives that another child’s parent scrambled to bring in.

(Someone brought feta; I don’t know what the thought process was.)

It should also be noted that in Greece, pork is a common gyros meat, perhaps even the most common. See here.

My understanding is that lamb in Greece is quite tony, and often reserved for special occasions.

Had to look up “tony.” Is this a common word? Or is it regional?

I haven’t encountered any in Dearborn, but I’ve been to a couple further away (e.g. Novi.) I don’t remember the place’s name, but there was one on Grand River at Meadowbrook. I guess I just don’t like the whole idea of “I have to follow you along and tell you every ingredient to put on the dish,” whether it’s Subway, Mexican, or Middle Eastern.

Thanks, that was exactly my point. The Ottoman Empire was geographically enormous and the sultans and their subjects both enjoyed consuming a wide variety of foodstuffs. Ottoman Palace Cuisine could be considered one of the first fusion cuisines.

Yeah, in Dearborn it would seem to be unnecessary.

I still remember my first visit to a deli in Manhattan. I was so used to sandwich places where there’d be a stock “turkey sub” or “Italian sub” or whatever on the menu, and the most I’d have to ask for is maybe extra peppers or something. Anyhow, having grown up hearing all about New York delis, I walk into a random one and ask for a turkey sandwich. The guy stares back at me. After an awkward silence, he asks me “What kind of bread?” “Oh, rye.” Another awkard pause. “Would you like anything on it?” “Oh, um, yeah. Mustard. Um…mayo…lettuce. Tomato.” “Would you like some cheese?” “Oh, I guess so, yeah, howbout some provolone?”

I completely did not realize that I had to literally name every single ingredient on the sandwich, from the bread, to the condiments, to the toppings. Now, I don’t think every deli was like this, but a good number of the ones I visited had no standard menu items and required me to build my own sandwich. If I wanted an Italian sub, I had to name salami, capicolla, ham, etc. (Which, to be honest, I got used to quickly and was quite nice.)