It is with great pleasure that I announce I have caught the condition known as Meze Madness. What is meze, you may ask, and how can you too, be mad over it? Meze is the Eastern European term for small plate dishes (tapas, your reign is over) and Midtown's Pera restaurant is letting you catch the East Euro fever for an appealing price.

Upon entering Pera, a beautiful space that instantly warms your heart and stomach with it's golden brown and yellow hues, we were greeted by their PR rep, Shelley Clark, who was casually sipping her white wine whilst saving us two seats at the marvelous communal table in the center of the bustling restaurant. The long, finished wooden table was full of people who were uncharacteristically not afraid to be in the middle of the action, elbow to elbow with strangers. Despite the large space, Pera feels safe and intimate. You revel in the opportunity to be close to your neighbors as opposed to scoffing at it.

[Dates, hummus, artichokes]

After Shelley gave us the rundown of the Meze Madness menu, we made our choices. For $9, you may choose three small (very small, but a nice post-work portion to pair with drinks) plates and are also given a basket of some of the most pleasant complimentary bread you could hope for; house baked bread that breaks open into little pockets, engineered to make it easy to stuff with kasserie cheese. With the Meze deal you also receive $5 off your first glass of wine (normally $9) or cocktail ($14).

[soujouk, meatballs, salad]

But now to the cocktails! Per recommendation, we tried:

Blood orange gimlet
Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, fresh blood orange puree and lime juice
Apricot margarita: Don Julio Blanco Tequila, apricot puree, agave nectar and lime j
Raki Mojito: Raki, muddled mint, lime, splash of sprite and cherry juice
303 Madison: Belvedere pink grapefruit, elderflower, aperol, muddled orange and lime juice

[The 303 Madison]

The first two were sweet and the last two had a bit of a kick. Raki is a Turkish liquor that does not mess around, everyone needs to experience it. All were fantastic...and so pretty! Meze Madness is the perfect guilt free (for your wallet and waistline) excuse for after work drinks and apps and we highly recommend that everyone stops by to see what Eastern Europe is all about. You might even consider booking that vacation to Turkey you never dreamed of!

--Nora Devin, NYCRD contributor


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