Last night I headed out with Kim and a ton of others including Art, his wife Laurie, Mr. and Mrs. Marcos, MSPD, and sui generis, his wife Becky, Maddie, and James to try out Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill & Lounge located near I-35E and Cliff Rd in Eagan. This is the sister restaurant to the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe which has split into two following Eagan’s decision to close the original restaurant via imminent domain. The other half of the Mediterranean Cruise will move into Burnsville’s Heart of the City after it was recruited by Burnsville’s mayor to fill space there and make it seem like the Heart of the City doesn’t suck as bad as it really does.
We had reservations for 7 PM and when I arrived, MSPD was waiting with gifts (thanks again dude!) and I let the restaurant know that we would have one extra tonight. They were ready for us with a long table setup right in the front by the belly dancing stage and were happy to add another chair for us. While I had originally asked for a high chair, there wasn’t one when we arrived and I asked the waitress to bring one over which they did just as sui generis and his family walked into the restaurant.
This location was previously a Baker’s Square and aside from the random hookahs adorning the pie case in the front of the restaurant, the bar area, and the elevated belly dancing stage, it still looks exactly like one. The bar is extensive and takes up the majority of the restaurant. While the tables in the belly dancing area were filled tonight especially due to our table of 10 and the table of 7 or 8 that they brought over of amateur belly dancers, it was the bar area that had the most action this evening. They have booths lining the walls over there and plenty of stools for those interested in only drinking. The outside has only temporary signage hanging from where the Baker’s Square sign used to be but none of this seemed to hinder the steady stream of people coming and going this evening.
After the majority of us were seated, our waitress came over to the table and started to take our drink orders before realizing that we had not yet received menus. She quickly rectified the situation, asked if we’d like to split the checks up (we did), and began taking our drink orders. After she left, we had plenty of time to look over the menu and after what seemed like forever, she was back and taking our orders.
Kim went with their Baba Ghanoush for an appetizer which is described as “Roasted eggplant dip ground with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and spices” for $8 and gyros (pocket or Greek pita bread served with tomato, cucumber, onion, and yogurt sauce for $7). I ordered their Falafel Sandwich for dinner which was listed as “crispy deep fried chick pea patties, served with tomatoes, onions, Greek potatoes and tahini sauce,” for $7 and Greek Potatoes as an appetizer for $4. Everyone else at the table ordered other interesting dishes, except Mrs. Marcos who insisted on ordering a cheeseburger ;-) After the waitress was done taking our orders we had plenty of time to “enjoy” tonight’s entertainment which included keyboards and belly dancing. The music was entirely too loud, the eye contact was unnerving for some, the swinging cane hitting the ceiling was frightening, and the most entertaining thing about the belly dancing was watching the drunken hick douchebag dance along. This guy was decked out in plaid, stumbled along with the belly dancer all while he placed dollar bills in her skirt, just like he probably practiced many a time at the King of Diamonds, all while his wine guzzling wife looked on. Yeah, it was really something to behold. Obviously Ansari’s is THE place to be in Eagan on a Friday night–for people watching.
Our appetizers started arriving and the Baba Ghanoush that Kim ordered was quite tasty. I enjoyed the smokey flavor and when sui generis tried it he also commented that it had a great smoke flavor. While it tasted great, it was certainly nothing to look at and Mrs. Marcos commented that it looked like cat food. The appetizer came with some olives and I had one and Kim ate the other two finding that they were quite yummy. I had originally ordered Greek Potatoes as an appetizer but our waitress, who later admitted that she was riding the sugar high from drinking too much Diet Coke (the jokes will never cease over that one), thought that I meant I wanted the fries that came with my meal. No, I didn’t but as long as I’m not paying for them, whatever. Art ordered hummus, which came out on an elongated plate sparsely populated with a few random vegetables and peppers. MSPD received a Greek salad that was of a decent size but after removing peppercinis and handing them to me to eat, he also had to remove a stem from one that appeared to have been already eaten. Yum.
After a costume change and even louder music, the belly dancer came back out while we awaited our entrees. She moved around the room and did her thing to the delight and amusement of many who were snapping pictures with cell phone cameras to send to their husbands hoping it would entice them to hurry up and arrive to save them from the living nightmare they were in. After some great conversation our meals started arriving at our table with everyone except MSPD being served…
My Falafel Sandwich came out and was more or less what they advertised. I would guess it had been sitting under some heat lamps for a little while as the pita pocket it was in was dry and crispy around the edges. The sauces it was served with were terrible. It didn’t taste like any tahini sauce I’ve ever had but what do I know? The Greek Potatoes, which Art mentioned looked a heck of a lot like any old potato wedge, weren’t too greasy and were filling enough. Since they come with them for free, I don’t suggest ordering the $2.00 upgrade to waffle fries, I just can’t see how that would be worth it. The only redeeming factor were the fresh vegetables inside. I must admit that the tomatoes were mostly ripe and the onions, they were definitely freshly cut–perhaps even earlier that day. Kim’s Gyros were really a gyro and came with what appeared to be plenty of meat and only one piece of pita bread. The meat was tasty enough but being that Kim didn’t finish it, I’d have to say that it wasn’t all that great for her.
Aside from Mrs. Marco’s cheeseburger, my sandwich, and Kim’s gyro, everyone else got very large plates of food. The only true disappointment seemed to be MSPD’s dish which was their $16 Lamb Shank which was supposed to include a “slowly baked lamb shank, carrots, green beans, served over rice or couscous.” Well, while it met those requirements, it did so minimally. We joked that a poor lamb was walking around on only three legs because one of its hoofs were atop a bed of Rice-a-Roni and covered in frozen green beans and carrots. Seriously, if you’re going to serve generic rice, frozen vegetables, and a shitty cut of meat, don’t charge $16 for it. While I didn’t try any of MSPD’s meal, he did remark that he’s had it quite a few times at the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe and those experiences were much better than what he had last night.
After dinner some desserts were ordered including pistachio baklava and Spumoni ice cream. Kim and MSPD enjoyed the baklava and while it didn’t really save the meal for Kim, MSPD did admit that it was good enough for him. The baklava was a small portion but was fairly priced being that it was listed for only $2.50.
Aside from the loud music, sub-par food, and slow service, tonight was a fun time to join up with a bunch of great people. If it wasn’t obvious from what I wrote above, I would have to recommend that you stay away from Ansari’s Grill in Eagan, at least for the time being. Perhaps in a few weeks they’ll have their shit together and the food will be better but being that this restaurant was created from another very successful one, I would expect much better than what Kim and I ate last night.
Have you eaten at Ansari’s Grill in Eagan? If so, what did you think? Did you enjoy the entertainment, food, and environment? Whatever your experience was like, feel free to share it below, we’d love to hear what you thought!
Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill and Lounge
1960 Rahncliff Ct
Eagan, MN 55122
Monday – Sunday: 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
See all the pictures from Ansari’s Grill in Eagan on Flickr here.