A recent trip to Jafar’s Mediterranean Grill in Van Alstyne turned into a surprisingly delightful journey for this food critic. As a world traveler, I have a deep respect for those who not only can cook traditional food, but maintain the traditional flavor.

The journey began as I arrived with my wife at a quaint little restaurant. The building was formerly a bank, and the owner now uses the vault as dry storage. The restaurant was well lit but kept a cozy feel.

My plus one and I were immediately seated by a friendly waiter, given our menu, and our drink order was taken. While perusing the menu — which was very easy to read and understand — we were greeted by the owner and given suggestions and the specials.

My meal started with dolmas; grape leaves stuffed with rice and tomatoes served with a tzatziki sauce. Merely writing about my visit makes me smile again as I think of the tastes. The dolmas, while soft and mild in flavor, had a slight sweetness. The sauce was tasty without the overwhelming flavor of dill that causes the palette to need cleansing.

My entrée was a gyro platter. The platter had a considerable amount of food for a very reasonable price. The freshly shaven lamb was juicy and seasoned well with roasted potatoes and a lentil soup. The soup was so rich and creamy, I could have just eaten that without anything else. All this was served with homemade pita chips.

There were several items I was not able to try because they prepare everything daily and the lunch crowd beat me to the menu.

Dessert consisted of baklava and vanilla ice cream. This slice of perfection was flaky with the right amount of sweetness and just the right portion to compliment the meal.

Over all, the meal had a great cohesive taste, the place was clean, and the staff was attentive. I would give the place a 4-spoon rating — very enjoyable, would recommend to family and loved ones. I tip my toque — my chef hat — off to Chef Jafar. This Jedi Chef will return for more!

For my readers, here is an at home hummus recipe to attempt, until you can try what Jafar’s has to offer.

Ingredients and directions

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (save the liquid for later use)

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup tahini (a toasted sesame paste)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon of paprika

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Place chickpeas and garlic in work bowl of a food processor and pulse until chickpeas are roughly chopped.

Add in tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, Paprika and 1/4 cup of reserved liquid from cans of chickpeas. Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of work bowl as needed. Thin hummus with additional reserved liquid if necessary. Add salt and pulse to combine.

Place hummus in serving bowl, sprinkle with parsley for garnish, and serve.