The Mediterranean

It takes a whole lotta falafel balls to think you can fill 10,000 square feet of primo downtown real estate and not go bust in ten weeks, but The Med’s been doing it for 17 years, so they must be onto something. In fact, they’re onto a lot of things, starting with that expansive interior — the colorful tilework, lazy stucco arches, and wrought iron framing all true to their Old World sources.

The fare is drawn from around the restaurant’s eponymous sea, Spanish paellas and tapas jostling for prominence on the crowded menu with Italian pastas and gourmet pizzas, Near Eastern marinated lambs, and an adventurous selection of fish and steak that suggest a chef confident in his range and trustful, after years of success, that his diners won’t abandon him when he goes all Basque on them.  On the liquid side of the ledger, the microbrews are relevant, the wine list would bear up under Robert Parker’s scrutiny, and the pre-prandial G&T’s and margs are suitably sauced, so you will be, too.

The one possibly irremediable flaw, given the turnover to be expected in a place like this, is a generally youthful and sometimes undertrained serving staff, though The Med’s soaring popularity suggests that folks don’t much mind. And why should they? A little waitronly cluelessness is a small price to pay for the invigorating controlled chaos of an established venue near the top of its game.