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Restaurant Review | Noor Mediterranean Grill is new restaurant on block

Noor Mediterranean Grill

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 03:01

After months of anticipation from Somerville residents, the newest Powderhouse Square restaurant, Noor Mediterranean Grill, is open for business. The grand opening last Friday garnered impressive crowds, and as pleasant chatter built up inside the restaurant, so did the cheerful hiss of the grill, filling the space with delectable aromas.

Noor’s menu offers a broad mixture of Armenian, Arabic, Turkish and Greek flavors, combined with a dash of classic American diner fare. Patrons can order familiar favorites such as a Greek salad with a Pepsi and fries, or opt to try the house falafel plate, chicken shawarma or kibbee balls. The menu is truly a blend of flavors and cultures and has something to please everyone.

Vegetarians and vegans alike are guaranteed to walk away feeling satisfied. The veggie lovers plate is perhaps the heartiest option on the menu for vegetarian or vegan customers: it comes with hummus, sarma (stuffed grape leaves) and fattoush salad. The fattoush salad, a traditional Lebanese dish, is simply wonderful. Served with fresh mint leaves and herbs, the dish is both light and refreshing. The hummus, while a little mild, is garnished with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds — Noor’s signature ingredient. Perhaps most delicious, the tabbouli salad is bright, lemony and surprisingly filling.

Despite Noor’s impressive range of vegetarian options, meat-eaters have nothing to fear. The restaurant boasts a juicy chicken shawarma wrap, topped with garlic and yogurt sauce, and it’s already earning a reputation for its mouth-watering kebabs.

Overall, prices are fairly reasonable, rarely exceeding $10 even for meaty dishes. Simply put, the Noor menu manages to appeal to all palates without sacrificing quality or economy.

Noor replaces The Broken Yolk, a breakfast and lunch diner that closed this past fall. Though Noor offers quite different cuisine than its predecessor, it maintains the same diner-esque feel. At the front counter, customers have the option to eat in or take their food to go and can watch their orders being made while they sit at one of the small tables along the opposite wall. Service is speedy, and married owners Hilda Darian and Arsen Karageozian welcomed customers with friendly chitchat during the opening.

The set-up is simple, perfect for casual diners stopping in for a quick bite on the walk to Davis Square. The closely arranged tables — though a little cramped — also encourage conversations between parties. When the restaurant is full, it almost seems like customers are eating at one long family table, as they literally rub elbows with their neighbors and hear snippets of each other’s conversations.

The result — for those who are not claustrophobic — is a uniquely charming experience. Noor is perfect for a college student looking for a quick bite or for those who want to hunker down and find a cozy spot to watch a sports game on the mounted television while enjoying a fun meal. As a nod to Tufts students, too, Noor offers a delivery option to surrounding residents, both on the Hill and off.

The restaurant’s name, Noor, means “pomegranate” in Armenian and is a symbol of prosperity and fertility. Visitors will notice the pomegranate on the sign outside the restaurant, and the grill makes their theme clear by fully incorporating the pomegranate into the interior design and the menu. With luck, this symbol will bring good fortune and success to the new restaurant and its owners as they face their first month in Powderhouse Square.

Noor Mediterranean Grill is located at 136 College Ave., Somerville, Mass. and is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

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