Agapé Méditerranée opened its first location on Polaris Parkway in early 2021, then followed it with another in November, a Gahanna facility. It’s an ambitious start, certainly, but the team that owns Agapé is far from being a novice when it comes to gastronomy. The Internet details a history of involvement in local restaurant operations and franchises. So Agape’s restaurants are entering the market with the appealing finesse that comes from experience: light colors, large windows, and super-clean hard surfaces.
The culinary objective of its promotions mentions the creation of healthy, affordable and accessible food for everyone. And in Columbus, they seem to have hit the mark with a fast-casual restaurant model. It’s familiar in the local market, and it’s familiar because it’s everywhere. The approach gives diners creative control and results that (usually) work well. We live in unpredictable times, so it’s good when our food is at least something less surprising.
The building process at Agape starts with a choice that reflects its Mediterranean theme: you’ll start by choosing between a pita (good as a main, $7.95), lettuce salad ($9.85) or rice (do the version with lentils for more flavor and value; $9.85).
From the somewhat predictable start, things get more interesting. In the protein department, more specifically in the poultry department, Agape opts for something better than a generic “grilled” chicken accent; Greek chicken offers a defined zest thanks to a homemade blend of oregano, garlic, cinnamon and lemon juice. Chicken Shawarma has a more earthy flavor profile, with cumin, curry, garlic, and oregano. If those aren’t floating your boat, there’s always classic gyro meat (the universal beef and lamb combo) and falafel.
Moving on to dips: hummus or tzatziki are both perfectly good, but they’re all over local menus. GET SOMETHING DIFFERENT: Spicy Feta is envy-worthy in its own charming way. It’s pink-orange, from a mix of red peppers, with thyme, oregano and a sly peppery sting of its cayenne pepper.
Spicy Feta is envy-worthy in its own charming way.
The next choice will add some vegetables to the mix (unless you start with the salad, in which case you’ll already have a good start). You can stay on theme with chickpeas and olives. Opt for a double cucumber with lightly marinated rounds and a tomato and cuke mixture, then add other vegetables like lettuce or cabbage.
The choices so far haven’t been difficult, but the tougher decisions await you at the end of the road: the choice of sauce is essential. Make the wrong vegetable choice and you can remove the offending vegetable from the mix. Choose the wrong sauce and the whole masterpiece is polluted. At this point, a nutty tahini sauce was a good performer, rounding out the mix by overwhelming it. The dressing is also good; lighter, with a balanced blend of mint and lemon. For Hot Heads, Red Harissa will provide the required spicy infusion.
Items such as hummus and baba ganoush are available on the side. The best bet for backing pieces, however, is the Greek fries ($4.45). The house loads fresh, hot fries with feta cheese and a garlic dressing. The only thing better than fries are fries lined with toppings, and Agapé delivers.
You can find him at the original Agapé in Westerville at 405 Polaris Pkwy, or at his Gahanna spot at 5010 N. Hamilton Rd.
For more information, visit agapeeats.com.
All photos by Susan Post