I'm going to break some new ground today with a hearty recommendation of a carry-out restaurant located in, of all places, a mall. Mazagrill, in the old Annapolis Mall -- which is now know as Westfield Shoppingtown -- was both a surprise and a delight.
The small eatery is sandwiched between a Japanese place and a McDonald's in the sprawling mall's food court. Its menu offers a familiar sample of Mediterranean-style skewers and pita dishes, as well as a handful of appetizers.
The cook prepared the grilled entrees over an open flame at one end of the kitchen, and the staff had our large order ready promptly. With one exception, everything we tried was terrific.
The chicken souvlaki skewer ($6.25) had several chunks of tender meat, with a wonderful smoky flavor. It came with a good-size serving of lemon-flavored rice (with a trace of orzo, as well) and a small salad.
We also tried the tuna skewer ($6.75), despite my misgivings that the fish would be too dry to eat. Not to worry. The fish was delicious and perfectly moist. Mazagrill offers seven different sauces for its skewers and pita entrees. For the tuna, the server recommended the Phoenician sauce, a fine puree of garlic, lemon and spices.
A sirloin steak pita ($5.25) featured tasty pieces of beef accented by a quite spicy Cajun sauce, also recommended by the server.
The entrees went down well with side orders of grape leaves ($3.99), which were stuffed with herbed rice, and baba ghannouj ($3.25), a piquant eggplant dip served with slices of nicely spiced pita bread.
The falafel ($5.75), a deep-fried chickpea concoction served with a large salad, had too much spice and was a bit of a letdown.
The only dessert was baklava, two small pieces of sweet, flaky pastry for $1.75 - a perfect finish to the meal.
Since Mazagrill is in, er, a shoppingtown, there is plenty of parking. The food court is near the movie theaters, close to Sears.
Food: *** 1/2
Service: *** 1/2
Waiting area: ***
Where: Westfield Shoppingtown, Route 450 and Jennifer Road, Annapolis
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Salads, appetizers and grilled meat, fish, shrimp and vegetables from $3.25 to $6.75; credit cards accepted
Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *