First, the news: Artemis Mediterranean Bistro now features a full bar, offering beer, wine and cocktails.
“We got our license (to sell alcoholic beverages) a few days ago, and we are happy we can now offer that to our guests as well,” said Mehmet Coskum, owner-operator of the Middle Eastern eatery, along with wife Serpil Gunduz-Coskum.
Next allow a friendly reminder: Artemis’s digs are at 7791 Cooper Road, just 200 yards or so west of Montgomery Road – easy to find if you know where to look. The restaurant is behind a row of buildings that front Cooper Road, and since Artemis is behind those street-side shops, one cannot see the restaurant when driving by on Cooper. But as mentioned in this column before, seek it out, because it’s worth the effort.
The backstory may resonate with the Jewish community as well. The owner-operators of this fledgling eatery are immigrants from their native Turkey. They are part of a Mideast diaspora that in some ways parallels the Jewish experience. They have committed to hard work and long hours to make a success of their new venture.
“I am here every day, working on the prep and making sure everything is fresh and as good as we can make it for our guests,” Coskum said.
In fact, that sort of dedication and commitment seems to be present in many of the successful dining establishments featured in the Dining Out column.
Now, let’s dig into the food. We have eaten Artemis’ kitchen creations on four occasions since the restaurant opened in May of this year. Each time has been a treat for us, and for the friends we’ve taken there as well. I’m betting you will be as delighted with your menu selections as we.
To start, we enjoyed an appetizer sampler, which featured hummus, baba ghanoush, eggplant with sauce and tabbouleh. This sampler is served with an ample basket of oven-warm pita bread. My advice is to take your time and savor this prelude to the main meal – it’s fun to eat and delicious!
At the heart of Turkish cuisine, and Mideast cuisine more generally, are dishes that include eggplant, lamb, and a spice regimen that finds its way into many dishes of this special region. Also, there are earthy entree selections such as cabbage rolls and kebabs. We’ve enjoyed most of these from the Artemis kitchen. My favorites are cabbage rolls and stuffed eggplant.
The cabbage rolls are a mix of beef and lamb, sautéed with rice, peppers, onions and the necessary herbs and spices. That combination of ingredients then is enveloped in the softened cabbage leaves and baked to a fork-tender packet of flavor. An order of this ethnically Indo-European cabbage dish includes four rolls, all of which is even more enjoyable with a shepherd salad as a complement – my meal last time I ate there.
In the kebab department, Coskum drew attention to two of my favorites and one key ingredient that makes many of the recipes at Artemis special. First, the chicken kebab, which features chicken, yes, but not just any chicken, and not done in just any old way. The chicken is select, namely the tenderloin of the breast. That segment is the tender strip that comes away from the breast when one debones a fresh bird.
“It is the very best part of the chicken, and we use only that in our kebabs,” he said.
The tenders are marinated for 24 hours, which acts as a partial cooking of the meat. Thus, when the kebab is grilled, the result is a very tender, moist, tasty series of chicken chunks. I have not had the kebab, but it sounds delicious to me.
The other skewered dish is the adana kebab, a Turkish and Mideast staple.
“We make this in a special way, with ground lamb and the spices and with red pepper paste. The result is very clean, very tasty and delicious,” Coskum said.
The pepper paste is a key ingredient that is central to much of Middle East cooking. This paste is made by roasting whole red bell peppers, then processing them into a paste with red wine and tomato paste (optional). Often hotter red chili peppers also are roasted and added to accentuate the finished flavor, to provide a little bite. The combo is cooked together in a saucepan to which sugar and salt are added along the way. One may eat the finished paste on toast, if desired, or add it as a flavoring to soups, dressings and more. Coskum adds it to the adana kebab. The mix of ground lamb and ingredients is formed around the skewer and grilled to a crusty brown and brought to table piping hot. The dish is served with rice pilaf and a shredded salad.
See you at Artemis Mediterranean Bistro!
Artemis Mediterranean Bistro
7791 Cooper Road
Montgomery, Ohio, 45242