Hidden away and off the beaten path, but smack in the heart of Montgomery is a new restaurant worthy of your attention.
Personally, I loved my experience there, and the people too. I’m betting diners-out within the Jewish community will also.
The eatery is called Artemis Mediterranean Bistro. Its owners have deep roots in the local restaurant biz, as well as start-up experience in the Middle East, so great creds.
First, the where: 7791 Cooper Road, just 200 yards or so west of Montgomery Road. If you remember Jimmy D’s Steakhouse of perhaps 10 years ago, Artemis is in those same digs. Most recently, the space was an Indian eatery, I’m told.
The actual 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 seek it out; it’s worth your time doing so, and your taste buds will thank you if yours are like mine.
Now, about the owners, who are salt-of-the-earth, warm, engaging, and most importantly, in-house, working, watching over every morsel that comes from their scratch kitchen. Mehmet Coskum and wife, Serpil Gunduz-Coskum, together have logged nearly 50 years in hospitality and restaurant experience. Both natives of Turkey, they cut their teeth amid Istanbul’s vibrant street café scene. I’ve been there, along the very streets where they started, and it’s a cornucopia of culinary delights and great fun into the bargain.
“I started out in Istanbul working the front of the house, and later I wanted to learn to cook, too,” said Mehmet Coskum. “When I came here (the United States), I worked at Café Istanbul (at Newport on the Levee), and then opened Café Mediterranean in Anderson (subsequently moving to Blue Ash, then Hyde Park). After that, I opened Sultan’s Mediterranean Grill in West Chester, with another partner.”
In 2014, the couple moved back to Turkey, where they were married. After three years in Europe, they returned to Cincinnati and undertook the challenge of opening a new restaurant, on their own, and without partners.
Interesting backstory, but the food is the real story at Artemis Mediterranean Bistro. We began with a bowl of fresh-made hummus served with pita wedges. Gunduz-Coskum made the point that while the menu in their restaurant features items found in every Mediterranean eatery, the taste of the dishes at Artemis is based on recipes they bring from native Turkey. In the case of the hummus, the hint of sesame oil and garlic made for a delightful flavor to this classic Mideast offering. We scraped the bowl clean!
Appetizers represent one of three key menu areas at the eatery, Gunduz-Coskum said. “Our appetizers are special, with exceptional taste. We have the Appetizer Guy here. His special talent is making them, and nobody knows him by his (actual) name, but if you say the Appetizer Guy, people (in the restaurant business) know. So, our hummus, baba ghanoush, eggplant with sauce, tabbouleh, falafel and stuffed grape leaves are excellent.”
Next, we split the shepherd salad, a fresh, balanced, delightfully tasty mix of diced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, flavored with parsley and dressed with vinegar and olive oil. If you enjoy garden-fresh flavors, you will love this salad. We ate our salad in combination with the entrée, which is a good way to do it, in my view, it being a great side dish for the stuffed eggplant we chose as the centerpiece of our meal.
No secret, I love eggplant. So, my choice was nearly automatic. Artemis’ version of stuffing is a mix of ground beef and ground lamb, flavored and seasoned with tomatoes, green peppers and herbs. That cooked mixture then is “stuffed,” generously, into half an eggplant with the seed bed of the vegetable hollowed out. An excellent choice for me, but a conflicted choice, since next to it on the menu was the cabbage rolls entrée – a favorite of mine also.
Another key section of the menu features entrée dishes centered around the kebab, with lamb, chicken and beef versions. Also, there are adana kebab and chicken adana kebab. These feature ground lamb and ground chicken, respectively, both of which are seasoned and formed on the skewer for grilling.
While this husband-wife team is Turkish born and bred, there is a strong Jewish connection within the family.
“My grandmother is Jewish,” said Gunduz-Coskum. “At our wedding, we had family members come from Israel to stand witness to our marriage. So, we wanted to reach out to the Jewish community here, because of all that. We want our guests to enjoy all the tastes we have here. The beauty of Mediterranean cuisine is the freshness of the food.”
Well put, and well represented at this new eatery.
See you at Artemis Mediterranean Bistro!
Artemis Mediterranean Bistro
7791 Cooper Road
Cincinnati, Ohio, 45242