Muddled Mediterranean at La Fendee

Categories: Fast Times

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Photos by Christina Uticone
I keep a list pinned up in my office of places Houston Press commenters suggest I try -- and it's a long one, because you guys are opinionated! I love it, though, because it usually leads me to excellent foods at restaurants I have yet to try. Needing a place to go for Fast Times, but looking for a healthier option (the gym in my building is closed for repairs this week, so workouts may be limited) I consulted the list and chose La Fendee on Westheimer for a weekend lunch.

Mediterranean is such a go-to favorite cuisine for me, I was really excited to try this place. La Fendee is right next to Aladdin on my Houston Press Commenter-Suggested List, and I loved Aladdin so much, I was confident this would be another amazing, relatively healthy option for us on a too-tired-to-cook weeknight. Wanting to try a bit of everything, I chose The Chef's Sampler ($12.99) and the Sauteed Mushrooms ($5.99) from the appetizer menu, and placed an order for pick-up.

When I arrived I was kicking myself for not bringing the husband along, because even though the day was rainy it was cool, and La Fendee has a terrific covered patio. Then I walked inside and was greeted with warm, open, friendly smiles -- seriously, I wanted to hug the older gentleman at the counter by the time I had paid for my meal. When I got home what I saw was pretty much what I expected: falafel, tabbouleh, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, plus chicken shawarma, and baba ghanouj (the sampler) plus the sauteed mushrooms, and a couple of big, flat pitas on the side.

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'Yikes' is the best thing I can say about these mushrooms.
But what I tasted was nothing like what I expected -- in fact, only the tabbouleh came close. If there was both hummus and baba ghajouj in the box they were next to, and indistinguishable from, one another; all I saw and tasted were vaguely lemon-y dips. The chicken was dry, the stuffed grape leaves mushy, the falafel hard and dry, and the mushrooms rubbery. And if the unfortunate textures weren't enough, the flavors just weren't there on any dish but the tabbouleh, which was beautiful, bright, and the only saving grace of the meal. Everything else was just sort of vaguely Mediterranean-ish, and I was left quite confused.

Now, I'm willing to concede that every restaurant can have a bad day, and maybe I ordered the wrong thing -- perhaps a full order of falafel might be more successful than two, small, appetizer portions. So if there are big La Fendee fans out there, please tell me how to get it right. Or is this one to scratch off my list for good?



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Location Info

La Fendee Mediterranean Grill - CLOSED

1402 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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8 comments
gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Just go to Al's and get a gryo and be done with it...

Delano
Delano

That wasn't a bad day, La Fendee is simply a tiny dud in the rough. I wanted to like it too, and the best thing is the location and patio. The food was just lousy though. Undercooked chicken, poor selection, aging meats. Aladdin is better, but I wish Fadi's would come into the area; they've got their game down finally and would be hard to beat.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

I've never had anything good from La Fendee, including just a basic Greek salad. That poor place.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

 @Delano I only did Fadi's once and it wasn't a thriller for me, but I remember not feeling well that day so maybe nothing would have made me happy. I have to give it another go.

 

I ADORE Aladdin.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

 @conebaby  @Delano Your success rate at Fadi's depends entirely upon which Fadi's you go to. I used to love the one on Westheimer at Dunvale, but it's gone downhill in recent years.

Delano
Delano

 @conebaby  @kshilcutt Fadi himself is at the new Sugarland location near Bombay Pizza. He hired a chef a while back who is supposed to visit the other locations; maybe he forgot Dunvale, I agree. Dairy Ashford and Beechnut both do it right. And Sugarland is a model for a franchise if anyone wants to something so 'soulless'

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

 @kshilcutt  @Delano I went to the one over by Meyerland Plaza, and it was easily 2 years ago. I'll have to add it back to my list.

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