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The American Isrealite

Andy’s Mediterranean Grill’s wine list features labels from world’s oldest vineyards
October 30th, 2013 | Section: Dining Out

By Bob Wilhelmy

The mushroom sauté entrée, including a bottle of the Lebanese Ksara wine.

Did you know that Lebanon’s hillside vineyards are some of the oldest in the world? The prophet Hosea, an Israelite who lived in the 700s B.C., is said to have urged his followers to return to Yahweh so that “they will blossom as the vine, and their fragrance will be like the wine of Lebanon.”

That was a while ago, huh? And the reference is among the first in historical chronicles to mention wine and the science or art of viticulture (grape-growing). Today, Lebanon produces some 600,000 cases of wine for domestic and export markets.

Andy’s Mediterranean Grill is one place you can enjoy those exported Lebanese wines. “We are going to feature the wines of Lebanon exclusively, except for a few house wines we will offer by the glass, from Chile,” said Majed Hajjar, a principal at Andy’s. Some of those wine grapes are grown in and around the Andy’s family hometown of Zhhle, Lebanon.

One of the dining room areas at Andy’s.

The wines, under the Ksara label, are ideal for pairings with Andy’s style of Mediterranean foods, according to Majed. “We have them because they are special wines and the wines of Lebanon are good with the foods we serve here. You cannot get that at every restaurant,” he said.

Along with the wines, Andy’s now features draft beers. The selection on the day we visited included: Redd’s apple ale, Leinenkugel’s seasonal brew, Yuengling lager, Goose Island seasonal, Rivertown seasonal, Sam Adams seasonal, Sierra Nevada pale ale, and Moerlein Lagerhouse beer.

If you are thinking of heading to Andy’s for dinner, you may want to take advantage of Monday and Tuesday dining from 6 to 9 p.m., when buying one entrée will net you half off on a second one. There is a deal on Thursday nights as well: buy an entrée and Andy’s will spring for an appetizer, free of charge, such as the spanakopita, featuring spinach and feta cheese in a flaky phyllo pie.

Jewish diners will find a lot of choices on Andy’s menu. One dish I tried recently is the new mushroom sauté, a vegetarian entrée of white cap button mushrooms sautéed in olive oil. The generous helping of mushrooms is served on a bed of seasoned, tasty rice, and ringed with chunks of fresh tomato and kalamata olives. This new dish is flavorful, and the fresh-baked pita bread adds the finishing touch to an unusual, yet delicious meatless meal.

The mushroom sauté is one of five veggie entrée selections on Andy’s new menu, according to Majed Hajjar. “We expanded the vegetarian section of our menu,” he said. “There is more interest in good flavors and lightly seasoned dishes for those who want meals without meat. And people like the dishes we have added.”

In addition to the mushroom sauté, vegetarian options include: the falafel platter; the veggie trio, featuring a large house salad with additions of hummus, baba ghannoush or grape leaves; the veggie kabob, served with rice; and the veggie sauté, featuring eggplant, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, tomato, bell pepper cauliflower and seasonings, over rice.

Pizzas also are of the veggie type, although meats can be added to some. The Lebanese version is made on a pita-bread crust, while the other varieties feature fresh-made, hand-tossed crusts, in Greek, Italian and Spanish flavors. All ingredients are fresh, making for very good flavor combos.

Andy’s menu offers many new items to complement the vegetarian section. A couple of the most popular ones are chicken dishes. The chicken filet sauté features a boneless chicken breast, lightly seasoned and prepared with a sauté of onion, mushrooms, red wine and olive oil. The other new dish is the Beyrouth chicken, which again is a delicately seasoned breast, with garlic and lemon juice providing the flavor. The dish is served with a salad and hummus.

Andy’s also features some non-food attractions. One is belly dancing entertainment, offered on Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 7:30. Those who want to light up can do so in outdoor patio areas, selecting a hookah from Andy’s stock or a cigar from the new humidor. Patio dining also is available.

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Business Courier talks about Marinades

Andy’s Mediterranean Grille owner to manufacture his products- Mar 17, 2008

Hajjar has taken a unique approach to growing his restaurant business. While many entrepreneurs pin their success plans on the number of stores or franchises they can open, Hajjar saw it through his product. Why toil away at several restaurants when he can make the same money selling his all-natural products at supermarkets? Read more>>

Restaurateur’s dreams of success are bottled up- Apr 3, 2006

The nice thing about a bottle of marinade is it can’t call in sick.

Give Andy Hajjar a minute and he will explain. Read more>>

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Key Cincinnati Magazine

No visit to Greater Cincinnati is complete without a sampling of the great ethnic dining spots sprinkled around our metro area. One of the best is Andy’s Mediterranean Grille, located at 906 Nassau St. just three minutes from downtown’s Fountain Square.

Andy’s is serious East Mediterranean cuisine. You can tell that by the pita bread they serve. It’s made from scratch, fresh daily. The Key Taste Tester panel has had Andy’s pita hot from the oven, and there is nothing like it in this town!

When you visit Andy’s, the Key panel recommends starting with the Mediterranean sampler. The sampler features hummus, baba ghannouj, labnah, tabouli and baby brown and green olives. It is served with the fresh, hot, homemade pita bread. It’d be a surprise if your sampler plate is not wiped clean by the last scrap of pita bread. It’s that good!

Appetizers range from $5 to $12, with most items at $7. You’ll find spinach & feta pie, Lebanese pizza, veggie grape leaves and more, including the a forementioned Mediterranean sampler on the list.

Those who know Mediterranean and Mid-east dining will appreciate the clean, fresh, vibrant flavors of the foods at Andy’s. Many of the dishes gain their fresh, flavorful taste from the real lemon juice and EV olive oil used in preparations. Andy’s marinates and salad dressings have become so popular with locals that the eatery now bottles them and sells them in house and commercially. Salads all are large, with eight types from which to choose, ranging from $6 to $14. Almost all have been tried and enjoyed by Key Testers, with favorites being the Greek ($10), and the ultimate tabouli ($14), which easily could be shared.

In the entree category, you’ll find many choices, ranging in price from $14 to $33 (several in the higher range serve two), with most entrees being $16/$17. All of the choices are classically East Mediterranean, with the rich, full flavors of that cultural area. An example: the shish kabob, featuring two skewers of charbroiled beef tenderloin, teamed with green pepper, onion and tomato, served over rice, for $20. A half order (one skewer) is $13.

The jumbo combo serves two, and features one shish kabob, one shish kafta (chopped steak) and four shish tawook (chicken) skewers, served over rice and with house salads, for $33. The jumbo is a lot of food for the money. Call 513-281-9791 for information. Enjoy!

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