Welcomed into Jocelyn's Family
Jocelyn's Mediterranean355 S. Broadway (Route 28), Salem
Serving: Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30-9; Friday until 10; Saturday noon-10 p.m.; Sunday 1-8 p.m.
Pricing: Appetizers $7-$10 (combos to $22); Dinner entrees $15-$25
Jocelyn's is located in one of the many freestanding commercial building that line busy Route 28. The long, narrow dining room, with 20 or so tables, runs parallel to the street. The interior seems a bit dated.
The woodwork is dark, though white walls and ceiling keep the space fairly bright. Soon after being seated on a rainy evening, we encountered a slight overhead drip from a leak somewhere in the ceiling.
We were quickly relocated and the staff was very apologetic. It wasn't the best first impression, but somehow we didn't feel the need to be concerned.
Our Gourmet: When we encounter a cuisine with which we have little experience, we look for combos and other ways to maximize our exposure. At Jocelyn's, the substantial appetizer menu is loaded with Middle Eastern dishes, and conveniently, many of them can be sampled in two combo platters. We decided to split the Mediterranean Combo Appetizer ($18). Our server told us many people split the combos as a meal, and by the time we worked our way through three meat-stuffed grape leaves, three vegetarian grape leaves, two stuffed cabbage leaves, two (each) deep-fried balls of falafel and kibbe (ground beef with crushed wheat), along with dishes of hommus and taboule, we were A) concerned about our capacity for our main courses, and B) in love with every tidbit we had consumed so far. 9/10 TDC: I have to say that Jocelyn's has made Mediterranean cuisine a comfortable and delicious choice. Although we ask for recommendations whenever we go outside our comfort zone, the offerings of a “sampler” plate can either give you a true representation of what you'd get if you just ordered straight from the menu or make you want to walk right out the front door. The Combo made me a true believer in Mediterranean, and more so in Jocelyn's. If you've wanted to try Mediterranean, GO to Jocelyn's! 9/10
OG: Many of the dishes included in the appetizer combo appear on the dinner menu as well, so having sampled several already, I turned to the “Open-Flame Dinners” section for my entree. I picked the Lamb Skewers ($19.50) and got three skewers, each with five or six large chunks of marinated lamb, perfectly charred, tender and delicious. I chose rice pilaf as my starch, and it was just the right combination. I was right to be worried about my capacity to finish: One of the skewers and most of the rice came home in a box for the later enjoyment of our Teenage Bottomless Pit. 10/10 TDC: Really wanting to try the kafta (ground lamb and beef with parsley, onions and seasonings), I opted for the Mixed Mediterranean Grill ($24). The combo plate includes a marinated beef skewer, two kafta skewers and a chicken skewer. The kafta skewers were fantastic, and the garlic dipping sauce that our server suggested for the chicken was just amazing (we do tend to like garlic more than the average person), and excellent for all the skewers.
All the meats were grilled perfectly, and the chicken was melt in your mouth juicy!
After the appetizer and then the salad that comes with dinner, TBP ended up with more than half my meal as well, but as he'd say, “Mom, it's all good.” 10/10
OG: The daily specials menu included Rice Pudding, something I enjoyed as a kid but haven't had since my grandmother died. This version — served densely packed in a coffee mug — was lightly spiced, sweet and delicately infused with rosewater. On the other hand, I thought it was very heavy, starchy and sticky, and though it came highly recommended, it wasn't for me. Our server saw that I didn't care for it, and graciously omitted it from our bill. 5/10 TDC: Although I couldn't eat another bite, I knew that bringing Baklava home would ensure me “Mother of the Year” status — at least for a couple of days. The one (of four) I tried was more than fantastic. I'm used to the more traditional Greek version that almost always (in my experience) seems to be soaked in syrup and makes using your fingers a dripping mess. This version wasn't as moist, but the flavor was so much richer — this is the one for me!
All the rest: 20/20
The dinner menu is extensive and mouth-watering. The lunch menu is similar, but priced slightly lower and including a long list of Mediterranean wraps ($8-$10).
The staff is friendly and welcoming — the manager stopped by our table a couple of times to say hello and ask about our experience, and we can't say enough about our knowledgeable and accommodating waitress, Danielle.
Jocelyn's is a family enterprise, and we couldn't help but feel like we were part of the family while we were there. 20/20
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