Simple and bold, the two staples that have helped Michael Heyne and Dominik Stein establish VERTS Mediterranean Grill. Their vision was to bring some popular Mediterranean food from their native European homes and to share those dishes with American consumers in a fast-casual Mediterrean concept. Their love and passsion for food paired with their unique food and concepts resulted in over 30 restaurant locations in just a few years in Texas alone, with plans to expand to Boston, NY, and Philadelphia.
We were invited to join VERTS and the Deep Ellum Brewing Company for a Mediterranean and beer pairing, “VERTS Fall Cheers & Beers”, at their New Mockingbird Station location. For the event, Chef Kate would be debuting some creative culinary dishes that had yet to be added to the menu.
As soon as we arrived, we were treated to Lamb Meatballs and Deep Ellum Dallas Blonde prior to being seated.
Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Dallas Blonde is a shimmering golden ale, which combines citrusy and floral America hopes with Pale, Vienna, and Wheat malts. It’s a balanced brew that pairs wonderfully with appetizers.
The appetizer menu for the night consisted of Seasonal Pickles, Fresh Pita, Schmaltz Hummus, and Collard Green Dolmas. All the appetizers were paired up with Rye Pils.
The pita bread came out warm and delicious. Thick and substantial, they were fresh, fluffy, and simple. The Collard Green Dolmas were amazing. Rice stuffed collard greens with spices, they were a unique spin on a traditional dolma with grape leaves.
Next out was the Schmaltz Hummus with chicken. This was paired with rye pils as the beer pairing. The hummus was very savory, with extra salt and crunch from the chicken skin, a boiled egg on the side. The crispy chicken skin is what made this dish a very savory and unique appetizer.
Next on the agenda were the Seasonal Pickles. The pickles were brined in the ray pilsner beer, making them tart. You could taste the brine of the beer, giving them a unique taste. Beets and persimmons added a unique touch. The persimmons were pickled, and having never had pickled persimmons, it was a totally new experience. A great example of classic pickled vegetables from the Mediterranean.
With the appetizers out of the way, we moved on to the real deal. Beef and Lamb Tartare was our first main course. We had never tried a beef and lamb tartare before, and it was a treat. The meat was high quality and raw for those that are unfamiliar with tartare. It was dressed in a harissa aoili, topped with shaved walnut. The meat was really good, savory and full of flavor; you didn’t realize you were eating raw meat it was so good. The dish would have been better if the quinca had been cooked instead of puffed, as they were very hard and not pleasant to eat. The turnips were fresh and flavorful, but the tartare certainly stole the spotlight in this dish. This was served with Easy Peasy, which is brewed with tangerine, lemon peel, and Pacific Northwest aroma hops.
Next main course was the Cured Fish. Slices of cured fish over top a smoked beet tzatziki and garnished with radish and pickled apples. Without even tasting it, the dish looks like a work of art. The bright colors and presentation were unparalleled, almost too good to eat. Almost. The fish was tender with a sashimi grade fish used, no “fishy flavor”. The mild fish took in the flavors around it. The beet tzatziki, however, was too smokey for our taste. The pickled apple added a nice pop of sweetness that wasn’t too sweet. The extreme sweetness came from the preserved lime, which tasted like purée candy. This creative culinary dish encompassed many different flavor profiles from sweet to smoky, without being fishy; it was one of the most interesting dishes that we have seen. This was served with Neato Bandito, which is the brewery’s version of a Mexican style lager. Light in color but full of rich flavor. We had never tried this beer before, but it ended up being a new favorite.
Last out was the Lamb Belly/Black Garlic & Carob Glaze. The black garlic and carob glaze was like a rich chocolate on top of the tender lamb belly. While some lamb can have a game-like flavor, this was well prepared and neutral in its flavor, and the black garlic combined with the carob glaze added to the richness of the dish. It was served on a cauliflower tahini purée which really gave the dish its Mediterranean feel. This was served with Local Legend, a sessionable sweet milk stout. It is the perfect balance of roasted barley and milk sugar for a subtly sweet, silky brew.
Overall, the food was amazing, the dishes were very creative, and the restaurant was so good that we found ourselvess back the next day for a quick dinner to sample regular menu items.
If you’ve ever been to a Chipolte (and let’s be real, who hasn’t), then you are already prepared for VERTS. It has a similiar way of doing things, where you decide what you want and then build it in front of you… and it’s HEALTHY!
The day-to-day menu is simple. Choose from a pita, salad, rice bowl, or quinoa bowl. Next, choose a protein, beef & lamb, chicken, falafel, or beef meatballs. Add some toppings, like spring mix, romaine lettuce, red cabbage, carrot slaw, cucumber & tomato mix, sumac onions, spiced chickpeas, pickled red onions, pickled jalapeños, fresh lemon, herb mix, red peppers, grilled vegetables, quinoa, marinated green olives, feta, or fried Brussels sprouts. Lastly, pick your sauce(s), ranging from house sauce, tzatziki, hummus, herb vinaigrette, spicy red pepper, spicy cilantro, hot harissa, or eggplant dip.
Here we have a rice bowl with chicken, mixed herbs, red cabbage, tomato & cucumber mix, carrot slaw, and sumac onions. The three sauces are tzatziki, herb vinaigrette, and spicy cilantro.
This was a dinner meal and was very filling. The mixture of the herb vinaigrette and tzatziki was awesome and made for an excellent pairing with the chicken. The chicken has turmeric, which gives it the yellow tone, and the vegetables were fresh. It was a great combination, creating a healthy, light dinner that was satisfying for less than 600 calories.
Make sure you stop by and give them a try! They are certainly worth it, whether you’re after a fast, casual meal or a low calorie but flavorful dinner! Enjoy!