Zameen
Dining Reviews

Zameen Brings Mediterranean to Pleasure Point

Plus Verve’s latest gluten-free treat, and a liquor license for Bantam

Alexis Snowden, who co-owns Zameen at the Point with Ed Watson, holding the chicken bowl and falafel bowl. PHOTO: KEANA PARKER

We love Mediterranean flavors, me and Bev, so we arranged a rendezvous last week at the newly opened Zameen at the Point, a vibrant slice of Pleasure Point ambiance with a healthy dose of tzatziki on the side. Packed with hungry fans of all shapes and sizes, Zameen offers a short, spicy menu of appealing classics, from the signature Moroccan Madness Soup to hummus to the house specialty lamb burger.

Bypassing crispy calamari, we went for an order of freshly-made dolmas ($7) and sweet potato fries with an outrageous pomegranate walnut dipping sauce ($6). I had to try the lamb burger, on a ciabatta roll with tzatziki, baby greens, feta, tomatoes, and pickled onions ($12). Bev went for the special lamb wrap, in a spicy sauce with almonds, raisins, cucumber, cinnamon and, yes, more of the irresistible tzatziki (think garlic, dill, and yogurt).

The cool thing here is that you can customize your Zameen order. Choose a wrap, a salad (mixed greens, veggies, olives, garbanzos, feta, lemon vinaigrette), or a bowl (saffron rice or pearl couscous). We sat and started on our luscious dolmas—served with sliced lemons and ripe cherry tomatoes— and terrific sweet potato fries, and noticed that many of our fellow diners had embraced the bowl approach to build-your-own lunch. Once you’ve decided on a delivery system—wrap, salad, or bowl—you can then add your choice of main attraction: falafel, chicken, gyros or lamb. Bev’s lamb wrap was a monument to soft pita that enfolded a substantial interior of spicy (with cinnamon and garlic) lamb, plus all of the other goodies. My lamb burger, frosted liberally with tzatziki and pickled onions, was delish (a bit too much bun) and came with a king’s ransom of textbook french fries, which are not exactly Mediterranean, but definitely a welcome addition. Next time, I would go with one of the bowls, and probably add the lamb. We ate till we could eat no more, and some goodies came home with us, mostly fries and dolmas. The vibe is excellent here at Zameen, yet another star in the hot surfing constellation that is Pleasure Point. Critical mass has been achieved, what with East Side Eatery, Verve, Kaito, Betty’s, Penny Ice Creamery, and now Zameen.


Verve’s Chocolate Sin

I caved in. I couldn’t resist it any longer, the barely legal chocolate orange cake that is one of the main gluten-free temptations at Verve these days, thanks to Manresa bakers. A pretty creation, the deep deep chocolate cake is barely sweet, feather-light, and topped with a thin layer of ganache icing flecked with cocoa nibs. The entire ethereal bon bon is perfumed with orange, and comes with a thin transparent ribbon of candied orange peel. $5 and terrifyingly good. Oh, and it’s gluten free too. I ate an entire one of these in a single sitting, in training for my trip to Vienna next month, where I will cruise the pastry shops in between operas.


Liquor License for Bantam

It’s true, chef Benjamin Sims told me last week: his chic little Westside pizza bistro has acquired its very own liquor license. But no, Ben said with a smile, I can’t get a dirty martini at Bantam just yet. There are some hoops to jump through, code-wise—more sinks, different configuration of infrastructure. The wine bar will remain, but the front window counters will be expanded to become prime real estate for those Moscow Mules to come. When? Sims rolled his eyes. “Probably two months.” So that means Bantam’s cocktail scene will unveil just in time for the summer. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Her new book 'Inside the Flame' is available at Bookshop Santa Cruz and on Amazon. Visit her website at ChristinaWaters.com.

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