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Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024

Mediterranean Restaurant Satisfies


Flames Mediterranean Restaurant is located in Ashley Ridge behind Outback Steakhouse

Feeling warm all over at Flames Mediterranean Restaurant

For each edition, 318 Forum’s always-hungry reporter visits a different restaurant and tells you about the experience.

I wouldn’t say I like cold weather.

So, for most of our “ winter,” I look for places to go where it’s warm, or at least where I can imagine it is warm.

A few weeks ago, I was hungry, and I was tired of being cold.

The Mediterranean sounded nice this time of year. But that’s not exactly a quick trip. So, I chose what hopefully would be the next best thing — a visit to Flames Mediterranean Restaurant (436 Ashley Ridge Blvd., Shreveport).

I had been once before, soon after the restaurant opened in 2021. I remembered it being a good experience yet for some reason I never found my way back. So, I invited a friend to join me, and we could see what the restaurant was like now.

I went to Flames’ website to make a reservation. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t offer that option. However, I Googled “Flames Shreveport,” and through Google, I was able to reserve a table.

We arrived at 7 p.m. and quickly discovered a reservation wasn’t needed. There were only two people in the main dining room, which has table seating for 25, another 10 stools at the half-circle bar, four booths and lots of outdoor seating for when it warms up.

There are two additional dining rooms, one of which we were told was filled with belly dancers having a party just before we arrived.

Darn it! My friend and I were quickly seated in a booth in the main room. I will say that the surroundings could use some color. The walls are gray, and we saw at least one spot where paint has come off the wall. The atmosphere seemed a bit drab. One thing that helped was the soothing recorded music. There were also two televisions over the bar, which could be seen from just about any seat.

The kubideh combo entree

Appetizer sampler and lentil soup

Khoreshte ghaimeh bademjan entree and Greek salad

Red velvet cheesecake and Persian ice cream

Stephen didn’t take long to introduce himself and ask for our drink order. We explained it had been a while since our first visit, and Stephen graciously offered to guide us through the menu, which we appreciated.

While my friend and I were deciding on appetizers, Stephen showed up with a tray full of warm flatbread squares and another tray with mini servings of three appetizers (all complimentary).

There wasn’t a reason for us to order full-size appetizers, as the three samples were plenty. There was mast khiar (homemade yogurt with cucumber), hummus and kashke bademajan (roasted eggplant dip). Their presentation was attractive, and while we enjoyed all three, we especially liked the yogurt. It was thick (the menu described it as “creamy”), and you could taste the diced cucumber and crushed mint.

Still thinking about the warmth of the Mediterranean, I wanted — needed — something to raise my body temperature. One appetizer caught my eye — lentil soup. Well, truthfully, it was the word “soup” that got my attention. You can’t beat a good bowl of soup on a winter’s night, and Flames’ lentil soup did the trick. It was served in a large bowl and maintained its heat throughout. I can’t tell you what all was in the soup, and like a good protector of a secret recipe, Steven couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me. But I can tell you that it was delicious and somewhat filling.

Flames’ menu has 30 entrees. Thankfully, they are broken down into Persian specialties, beef, poultry, seafood, combos and lamb. Don’t let the names of the dishes intimidate you. Each has a clear description of what you will be getting. My friend had a question about a particular ingredient, and Steven’s knowledge resulted in a quick but detailed answer.

I chose the shishleek combo ($19). I was promised a half skewer of beef chenjeh and a half skewer of chicken barg, with grilled vegetables on the side. I would strongly suggest ordering a side of rice with your meal. Flames’ rice isn’t the bag of Mahatma Mom used to cook. There are seven rices from which to choose. I chose the cranberry rice ($3).

When Steven placed my plate in front of me, I could only stare at it. The presentation was outstanding. At the bottom of the dish were four pieces of beef and four pieces of chicken. Each one looked perfectly cooked. At the top of the plate was a healthy serving of mixed vegetables made up of yellow squash, green squash and bell peppers.

Separating it all right in the middle of the plate and spanning the length of the dish was the cranberry rice. My food almost looked too good to eat.

Almost. Each piece of beef and chicken was warm, tender and juicy. The veggies were just right — not overcooked and not undercooked. And that rice! It was fluffy and loaded with cranberries. I could have eaten an entire plate of just cranberry rice.

My friend went with the khoreshte ghaimeh bademjan ($10). It was slow-cooked yellow peas with fried tomato paste and dried lemon, topped with fried eggplant ( she loves eggplant) and Persian seasoning. For $2, you can add lamb shank, chicken kebab or chicken barg. My friend chose not to add anything.

She said it was “ different, but good.” She also ordered a Greek salad. It, too, looked almost too good to eat.

Almost. Her salad comprised iceberg and romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives (lots) and feta cheese.

My friend said it was very good, tasted fresh and was equal to the Greek salads she ate on an overseas trip a couple of years ago.

We were too full for dessert. But when Steven listed our choices, two things made us reconsider. One was the words “ red velvet cheesecake;” the other was the words “ Persian ice cream.” While Steven said the cheesecake wasn’t made in house, he did say the Persian ice cream was. Steven said it’s made with rose water, saffron and pistachios. According to Steven, it takes hours to make, and when the restaurant runs out, it can take a week before it’s available again.

Both desserts were outstanding. The cheesecake was the lightest-tasting cheesecake I’ve ever had, making me forget its calories. The cake was topped with a thin layer of cream cheese icing, followed by a cheesecake layer on top of red velvet cake.

The ice cream tasted different but delicious. The three scoops in a large glass had a certain amount of sweetness. By the time we finished, only a few cake crumbs were left.

The total for our meal before taxes and tip was $54. All of that for $54! When reviewing the menu before ordering, I thought the prices seemed reasonable. My inclinations proved right — when examining the check, I was very impressed with the quality and quantity of food we had for the cost.

My friend and I agreed: Flames Mediterranean Restaurant deserved Four Forks. We would return and go out of our way to do so. The food — especially its presentation — service and price made this decision a nobrainer. I hope more people find out about Flames. This restaurant, which brings an overseas taste to our little part of the world, is too good to go away.


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