Garlic, Garlic, Everywhere . . . at Garlic Crush

Garlic Crush_Chicken Souvlaki_web.jpg
© Siiri Sampson 2011.
I still don't understand why they put fries on the side of Mediterranean food; I also still don't care. They're fries, what's to question?
When winter keeps you in its death grip for no apparent reason, it's necessary to distract yourself with mouthfuls of your favorite happiness and with as many friends as possible, to keep you from going completely nut bags. It's not about gluttony, although that definitely has its place in line somewhere between December and January when you still can't see a light at the end of the snow tunnel. It's about fitting illegal amounts of your favorites onto the same plate, and essentially filling the void of sun and blue skies. Mediterranean food somehow just always rises to the occasion, no matter where it's picked up, including Garlic Crush in Bellevue (102 Bellevue Way N.E.).

The prize to be had at Garlic Crush is the weirdly gelatinous and whitish-clear garlic paste that was served with the meat combo platter. There wasn't a ton of it on the plate, almost as if they didn't trust you as a first timer to give you too much . . . just enough to dip your toe in and breed a new addiction. Having never seen or tasted anything quite like this, and still unsure of how the heck it's even created or what part of the clove this paste comes from, a little dab was good to start. It's so powerful, and yet not spicy--the way hummus can be if too much garlic is used. How is this made? Minced garlic, crushed garlic, diced garlic, and roasted garlic pulp aren't nearly as white. It's much like a grainy jelly--almost like grits, but pure garlic. Pure happiness.

Garlic Crush_Meat Combo Plate_web.jpg
© Siiri Sampson 2011.
This may be enough meet for two grown men, but they'll have to wrestle it out of my cold, dead hands to get it off my plate. Grilled meat = priceless.

But here's the rub: the size and location of Garlic Crush leaves miles to be desired. For starters, it's right on busy Bellevue Way with no parking, so you're required to bogart parking from a neighboring lot that looks like it belongs to Sports Authority. The restaurant itself is half of a duplex that struggles with space in a long and narrow shotgun setup, with about 10 tables seating either two or four people down a long hallway towards the cold bathroom. There was only one table left when we got there, and of course it was right by the door that kept opening every two minutes when a new group of people would come in.

The die-hards chose to stay and copped a squat outside at one of the two patio tables. Since you order at the counter, it's easy enough to decide whether you want to stay or take it to go. If it's not crowded, stay and enjoy your food while it's hot.

But being in the cramped hallway of a quick-serve is well worth it, if the payoff involves a dense falafel taster plate ($4.79) and a belly full of moist chicken souvlaki, Greek salad, fries, and pita with plentiful tzatziki ($8.29). Double your pleasure and double your fun when you dine with at least one willing partner who won't slap your hand when you take a bite of their kefta.

Is eating at Garlic Crush the newest discovery in birth control? Most likely. But if you find yourself alone with a raging case of garlic breath, to the point that it's sweating itself out every last one of your pores, then you just bought back the other half of the pistachio baklava ($1.39) and Lebanese rice pudding ($2.49) you were planning to bring home to split.

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