Pangea Grills & Wraps

As summer heats up, light meals and refreshing drinks are in order.

Cool salads, wraps stuffed with fresh vegetables, and great, slightly unusual, specialty beverages from Pangea Grills & Wraps in Ashland fit the bill perfectly.

Two summer sippers at Pangea — organic raspberry spritzer and rosewater lemonade — rank among my favorite ways to beat the heat.

The spritzer features fresh berry flavor that's not too sweet and a sparkle of light carbonation. The blushingly pink rosewater lemonade has a subtle floral aroma and a just-right citrus tang.

On a recent visit, I decided that a Gimmie the Greek wrap for $7.49) filled with Mediterranean morsels of kalamata olive, herbed feta, tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado and crisp greens would complement the lemonade enhanced with a flavor that's popular across the Middle East. It did.

The wrap combined tastes and texture for a filling meal that didn't leave me feeling lazy on a summer evening. And even with feta and olives, it managed to avoid being too salty.

Some of Pangea's wraps — loaded with good stuff such as tangy cheeses, olives, and artichoke hearts — end up a little salty for my taste.

The confetti of seasoned salt, parsley and minced red onion that decorates plates with a festive touch also can boost the sodium content of a meal if you're not careful.

While I love the wraps filled with veggies both raw and grilled, Pangea also offers vegetarian-friendly protein packed dishes such as tofu and tempeh, as well as chicken and tuna for folks who need meat.

Pangea's salads feature organic field greens enhanced with intriguing toppings and house-made dressings.

The popular Cleopatra salad has artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan, while a squirrel nut salad is topped with carrots, sprouts, raisins, coconut, seeds and nuts.

Rounding out the menu are grilled paninis, and an ever-changing array of soups.

Paninis include choices like Bernie Your Beancurd for $7.49 with spicy tofu, roasted onions, red peppers, zucchini, spinach & garlic aioli; and Drunken Barbeque for $7.79 with chicken with roasted peppers, caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese and a tangy barbeque sauce.

Soups are served with grilled focaccia. A cup is $3.25 and a bowl costs $4.95. A soup and salad combo features a small Cleopatra salad with a cup of soup for $7.95.

While these tend to feel like warming winter comfort food to me, they also celebrate the seasons, with a cold melon soup offered last time I visited.

For drinks, there are blender freezes ranging from $2.99-$3.99, with your choice of passion fruit mango freeze, piña colada freeze, and a delicious-sounding Chocolate Cherry Bomb. Also available are beer and wine, coffee, espresso drinks, chai and soft drinks.

With its strong focus on seasonal food and local produce, the restaurant turns out simple and delicious meals year-round.

Pangea makes much of the fact that it prepares its meals from scratch. According to its Web site, Pangea uses only hormone-free range meats and wild salmon. Its "plastic ware" isn't really plastic, it's made from grain and is therefore biodegradable. It buys sustainable energy, uses energy efficient light bulbs and recycles.

And the place always draws a crowd. Even with extra, brightly painted tables on the sidewalk for the summer, the little storefront dining room can be packed.

A line forms at the counter where customers place orders, but the cheerful staff keeps things moving right along.

— Anita Burke

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