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The Roanoke restaurant offers flavorful, healthy, Mediterranean choices.
JEANNA DUERSCHERL | The Roanoke Times
Zucchini chips at Double Apple Restaurant & Hookah Cafe.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
The Double Apple Restaurant and Hookah Cafe opened in August at a location on Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke that once housed Freddy’s Sunset Grill.
Although one of my dining companions wondered whether I would make her try the hookah (a water pipe used to smoke flavored tobacco), we remained in the downstairs restaurant where the presence of the upstairs hookah bar went unnoticed.
The nice interior boasts lots of wood and light, a fireplace and a separate bar area. Although the restaurant appears sprawling from the outside , it is divided into smaller compartments that impart a cozier feel.
Although Double Apple offers an array of subs, the menu focuses mostly on traditional Mediterranean food. Double Apple does not serve alcohol but does offer a wide variety of smoothies and other fruit drinks.
A weekday lunch consisted of a filling array of falafel ($5.95), lentil soup ($3.25) and a lamb gyro ($7.95).
I enjoyed the falafel, a fried ball of blended chickpeas with parsley, onion and spices . The crispy exterior contrasted nicely with the soft interior. The gyro included thick strips of wonderful spiced lamb topped with fresh lettuce, tomato and onion, all stuffed in a soft pita. I particularly liked that each half was tightly wrapped in paper, adding extra control to what can be a messy endeavor. I was also pleased that the cooks had not been stingy with the tzatziki sauce .
Dinner started with exceptional spanakopita ($6.95) and hummus ($5.95) appetizers. A flaky, golden crust encased the generous, piping hot filling of spinach, feta, green onion and cream cheese in the spanakopita. A dash of olive oil pooled on top of the hummus, which I found creamier and more delicate than most versions of this spread. Dusted with ground red pepper and garnished with a pickled beet, the large serving easily outlasted the modest four pieces of warm pita bread. Luckily, our server was quick to ask whether we wanted more .
I perused the menu online before going and had already gravitated toward the farrouj mishwi ($10.95), a Lebanese garlic chicken marinated in lemon juice, garlic and other seasonings . It’s a half chicken, so I got white and dark meat that, in this case, easily pulled off the bone. It was good, though the crispy skin had burned in a few spots and the meat was slightly dry. A dip in one of the two accompanying sauces rejuvenated the dish.
A delicate, oil-based strawberry-mint dressing added a hint of sweetness to the chunks of cucumber, tomato, red onion and lettuce in my side salad without drowning out the very fresh-tasting flavor of the vegetables.
Another entree, mousaka ($9.45), consisted of tender slices of beef rolled in eggplant and topped with a tomato sauce. I was surprised to learn that pomegranate produced the slightly sweet flavor of the sauce, which I liked .
The traditional baklava drizzled in honey comes in three flavors at Double Apple: walnut, almond and chocolate. As a traditionalist, I chose the first option and found the multiple strata of phyllo dough layered with spices, walnuts and honey dense and delicious.
The lentil soup, which I found virtually tasteless aside from a “kick” of curry at the finish, was the only significant disappointment.
Lunch featured excellent service that moved along at an appropriate pace for folks who needed to return to work. At dinner, we opted to eat early and were the only ones in the restaurant. While the service was generally attentive, we sat unnoticed for a while before I flagged down a server and requested a dessert menu.
I was a little peeved that the raspberry iced tea did not come with free refills, but at least the waiter warned me before refilling.
The bottom line
Those who are wary of the hookah bar should not let that prevent them from visiting Double Apple. The bar, located upstairs, was unnoticeable. The restaurant, on the other hand, offers a lot of flavorful, healthy, Mediterranean choices, pleasant decor and reasonable prices. Double Apple is worth a look.
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