Village Mediterranean Rim – San Clemente, CA USA – ☆☆☆☆☆
The Village Mediterranean Rim, in all it’s inconspicuous glory is tightly sandwiched between a hair salon and British novelty store on Avenida Del Mar in historical downtown San Clemente. A tiny porch with two outdoor tables preceeds the elaborately framed menu upon an artist’s easel. As you enter this dimly lit hideaway, the rustic Mediterranean decor favorably inundates your exceedingly famished self.
Almost immediately I am greeted and seated at one of the many wooden tables all of which are tightly placed beside one another for optimum utilization of this compact space. To the rear of the restaurant I see owner/Executive Chef Nour Tillo orchestrating his team in creating an array of signature dishes.
We decide on the Mezza Plate to start with. The hummus, baba ghanoush, and falafel are served with pita triangles, a small portion of spring mix greens and a drizzle of olive oil. It is amazing. Should you forego an appetizer, complimentary freshly baked bread squares are served with garlic and black pepper infused olive oil regardless.
For the main course D and I like the Vegetable Tagine for two. It’s an array of delicately cooked seasonal vegetables along with chopped nuts, dried apricots and a side of couscous. You can’t go wrong here. It is inexplicably delicious and I was initially surprised that a place with an outward appearance of such modesty could deliver a paragon of culinary perfection. Especially since I thought I had experienced delicious tagine in the past, although, I am now rather familiar with what it is supposed to taste like. Probably has something to do with Chef Tillo’s focus on utilizing locally and sustainably grown produce to compile his distinctive list of menu items; dishes derived from flavors you’d experience whilst visiting the Mediterranean region (in case that wasn’t blatantly evident by the restaurant’s name!).
Since my initial visit I’ve returned and tasted an assemblage of menu items. I have yet to try something that is less than superb. Most recently I ordered yet another noteworthy item, the Vegetable Moussaka.
The desserts are downright iniquitous and very much worth the extra thirty minutes of jazzersize I must force myself to endure the following day. No, I’m not entirely sure exactly what ‘jazzersize’ is but that is what D tells people I’m doing when I work out. The Panna Cotta is my personal favorite.
Make a reservation if you plan on dining any later than 6pm (especially Friday through Sunday). Not too long ago they began offering a lunch menu as well. This works nice if you want a quick stuffed pita or salad to-go.
Chef Tillo is a prominent, world class chef with an unequivocal culinary talent. I’m glad to live close enough to frequent his restaurant whenever I grow tired of the repetitious lineup of eateries serving dishes assembled of mass produced, nutrition-deficient ingredients.
Village Mediterranean Rim
123 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672