When Tempo editor Laurie Heuston shared a tip that a new restaurant serving fresh, mostly organic Mediterranean food had opened in Cobblestone Village, I was happy to join her on a mission to check it out.
Hidden Door Cafe, 1263 N. Riverside Ave., Suite 4, is truly hidden, tucked behind The Valley School, a Montessori-based charter middle school. The bright space looking out on a charming courtyard previously housed Qzeen Armenian Deli & Cafe, a favorite for falafel.
The crispy patties of crushed chick peas are on Hidden Door’s menu, and that’s what Laurie ordered. The falafel prepared from scratch by cafe owner Teresa DeChance are studded with sesame seeds, dense, almost chewy beneath a crunchy crust. They were tucked into a pita pocket along with lettuce, tomatoes and pickle slices. A generous cup of creamy tzatziki came on the side, making it easy to add a little or a lot of the yogurt and cucumber sauce that manages to be both rich and refreshing.
I stuck with the Mediterranean theme that had first attracted us to Hidden Door Cafe and ordered Athens-style gyros. A pillowy flat pita wrapped tender slivers of grilled meat sliced from a large kebab, lettuce, tomato and red onion. Tzatziki came on the side here, too. My meal also was accompanied by a rice pilaf made with long-grain rice and bits of vermicelli toasted in a pan, then spiced tabouli-style with lots of parsley, tomato and onion. A sprig of parsley and a small bunch of grapes added flair to each plate.
Each of our meals was priced at $8.95, the price of most of the cafe’s sandwiches, including The Californian, which comes with turkey and Swiss dressed up with sprouts and avocado, and The Rogue, which features turkey and cheddar enhanced with lettuce, apple slices and onion. A Hawaiian-style tri-tip sandwich and a rosemary garlic chicken pita, which intriguingly featured marinated chicken thighs and thinly sliced potatoes, cost $9.95. Salads variously loaded with meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruit and nuts are all priced at $10.95.
A dessert case beckoned from across the small cafe, and the baklava didn’t disappoint. The flaky pastry and finely ground nuts were lightly infused with honeyed sweetness, but each bite was crisp and so buttery it almost seemed savory.
In addition to serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Hidden Door, DeChance, who worked in corporate catering jobs in California before coming to the Rogue Valley, prepares lunch for middle school students from the charter school next door once a week and does some catering. She would like to add more items, including spanakopita, a filo pastry filled with spinach and feta, and dolmas, to the menu, and she says if things go well, she could expand the cafe’s hours.
This restaurant secreted away in Cobblestone Village is definitely worth seeking out for a tasty, well-priced lunch. Call 541-203-7711.