I dined at Cleo at Mondrian Park Avenue in Manhattan last Sunday on a calm evening, away from the hustle and bustle of New York Fashion Week, my reason for being in the city. Cleo Restaurant serves delectable Mediterranean cuisine including kebabs, Moroccan lamb, Branzino, and plenty of vegetarian options. They also have the sweetest waitstaff around. I could tell that they enjoyed being there and I appreciated their sincere hospitality and friendliness.
I started with one of their signature cocktails, Voodoo Child: Hendricks gin, Lillet rose, rosemary, grapefruit, lime, Peychauds bitters ($16). I liked that it was not sweet, but still light and refreshing. Additional cocktails include their Thai Basil Mule, Passionfruit Margarita, and Mondrian Old Fashioned made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon.
For my first course, I started with the Miza section and chose Babaganoush: smoked eggplant, tahini, sumac ($10). From their Small Plates, I had Spanakopita Phyllo: spinach, feta, sesame, oregano ($10); and Lamb Sliders: Feta, piquillo peppers, harissa aioli, pickled shallots, challah ($13 for 2). My favorite was the Lamb Sliders with their perfectly roasted red peppers. I could easily have ordered a second plate, though it was quite the challenge holding myself back. Each dish had the ideal portion size; I recommend ordering several small plates and sharing with a large group.
Main course dishes include their Trademark Burger with black olive tapenade, Market Vegetable in Moroccan tomato sauce, and Branzino with cauliflower couscous. To finish, I had a cappuccino. I particularly loved their eclectic cups and saucers that reminded me of growing up in New England.
Dessert options include Sticky Toffee Pudding: medjool dates, butterscotch, walnut tuile, vanilla bean ice cream ($9); and Flourless Chocolate Cake: dark chocolate, roasted banana, salted caramel ice cream, hazelnut meringue ($10).
Cleo Restaurant at Mondrian Park Avenue is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. Dinner begins at 5pm nightly.