I have many dreams of gallivanting across the globe tasting different dishes and exploring various cultures. Currently, college gets in the way of that so I like to try different cuisines as close to home as possible. Recently my dad and I took a short trip to the Mediterranean by visiting Ayse Meze Lounge in Frederick, MD to celebrate my 19th birthday.
Ayse Meze Lounge is located in the historic city of Downtown Frederick. Personally, my favorite part of living in Frederick is how close I am to the downtown area. It is rich with stores, restaurants, and beautiful parks. Coming back from college, DTF (as it is lovingly called by my generation), is the go to spot for catching up with friends and grabbing a delicious bite.
As you walk into Ayse, your eyes wander to the beautifully decorated walls and tables that have a combination of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean vibes. My father and I were welcomed by a very gracious hostess who treated us well the entire night.
A server quickly brought us fresh pita bread and spiced oil while we looked over the vast menu of tapas (small plates). This was our third or fourth time at Ayse, so my dad and I were able to quickly pick out four dishes to share.
First to arrive at the table was my all time favorite Ayse dish: the Brussels sprouts. Formally called bruskel lahanasi, the dish was composed of roasted Brussels sprouts in a light sauce of honey and capers, tossed with currants, and topped with roasted pine nuts. My favorite part about this dish was how well balanced everything was, in both flavor and texture. In this dish especially, you get the sweetness from the honey and currants, tartness from the briny capers, the crunch of the pine nuts along with the crispy outer layer of the Brussels sprouts. 10/10 would recommend.
Our second dish was the Lebanese Fried Chicken accompanied with a sweet pepper jelly, arugula, and a goat cheese spread. While the chicken was cooked perfectly and remained very moist, the entire dish as a whole didn’t excite me much.I would’ve liked a tad more salt on the chicken and a squeeze of citrus to brighten it up. Overall it was a good dish that I would recommend to less adventurous eaters.
My dad is a lover of meat and kabobs always call to him from menus so we had to order a grilled skewer. For this meal we chose Adana, a lamb skewer with rice and a red onion yogurt. Both of us enjoyed this yummy and filling dish, but just like our second course, we wanted something more. Some pickled red onions on top or some cilantro for garnish I think would have made it just a little more exciting.
Our fourth and final dish was the highlight of the night: the xtemia. A dish composed of pan fried sea scallops on top of a silky sweet potato puree topped with a mint mustard butter. When it arrived at the table I was shocked; only two medium sized scallops for $15! I appreciate good food but I appreciate good deals even more so I wasn’t the biggest fan of the xtemia at first. But as soon as I sliced into the scallop and it cut like butter, I knew I was in for a treat. The rich scallop along with the creamy sweet potato puree with the hint of mustard and mint all together was the perfect bite. Both my father and I enjoyed this dish very much!
We ended our meal with an order of the baklava which was simply divine. The crisp phyllo dough was layered with honey and perfectly toasted nuts. It was a classic way to end a great Mediterranean meal!
Overall, Ayse Meze Lounge is a fantastic place to have a meal regardless of if you have an occasion to celebrate. Go there to celebrate their great food, kind servers, and beautiful decor. If you are in the downtown Frederick area and are looking for a place to go with friends and family, Ayse will not disappoint!