Grilliant takes the brilliance out of Mediterranean food.
The new Westwood location opened Feb. 12 on Lindbrook Drive and serves salads, wraps, kabobs and organic smoothies. But despite the bright-green pepper and tomato slices laid out on some of their plates, the overall flavor of dishes proved rather colorless.
The interior comes across sterile and cold, with stark white walls, hard chairs and generic pop music coming out of the speakers – a precursor to some of the bland food the restaurant serves.
Overall, the menu is quite health-oriented, offering smoothies that incorporate ingredients such as chia seeds, organic dates and spinach. The main dishes come with unconventional protein options such as salmon and mushroom kabobs and wraps.
The fire-grilled portobello kabob features thick pieces of mushroom wedged between grilled vegetables and comes with a side of rice. Each morsel of mushroom tasted dry and almost uncooked in the center. Normally, kabobs consist of protein and vegetable servings on the same skewer, but Grilliant’s version separates the two, which led to an aesthetically unappealing line of mushroom.
Grilliant also provides a yogurt dip and tomato salsa, but the portions weren’t enough to cover both kabobs and the pile of rice that occupied half the plate. To supplement, a single lemon wedge accompanied the dressings, which I squeezed until the very last drop in an effort to inject any flavor into the dish.
Each ingredient, including the rice, tasted fresh on its own, but direly required a heaping amount of some rich sauce to bind them together into a cohesive meal. Without the sauce, customers would be better off picking and nibbling on produce from their fridge.
The restaurant also offers a choice of separate side dishes such as seasoned fries and Mediterranean salad, as well as separate portions of dips such as labneh and hummus, all priced around $4. The fries arrived on a wooden block and were well salted and consistently crisp. Additionally, the taste of the complementary ketchup didn’t veer into the overly saccharine realm like the generic Heinz variety.
Ultimately, Grilliant extends the misconception that substitutes for meat are never as good as the real thing. The chicken wrap contained all the flavors the mushroom dish was missing and was cooked tender throughout. Hummus coated the inside of the wrap and gave it some much-needed emollience.
The wraps range from $9 to $13 while the kabob plates cost up to $16 for the fire-grilled salmon option. Considering the paltrier portions of the plate, which were actually less satisfying than the wrap, hungry students can find better fare elsewhere.
Grilliant doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the Mediterranean food landscape in Westwood – CAVA presents a far more customizable experience while Falafel King offers a more filling meal at a cheaper price point. Additionally, outside options for smoothie bowls and pressed juices more than fill the quota for students seeking something quick and healthy.
Perhaps the salad or smoothie options better incorporate their ingredients and textures, or maybe mushroom can never truly be a successful substitute for grilled meat. But so far, Grilliant hasn’t reached the flavor potential of Mediterranean food to make a lasting or memorable imprint.