Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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Cleo offers a culinary adventure

Delicious Mediterranean-inspired cuisine showcasing shareable plates, mezzes, flatbreads and handcrafted cocktails at Baha Mar

The diversity of Baha Mar’s restaurants have definitely been taken to another level with the opening of Cleo Mediterraneo — which captures the vibrancy of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine where new yet familiar flavors are enhanced by worldly charm.

Cleo, which opened in late 2017, serves up small plates with an Eastern European theme, and I think it’s the perfect spot at which to start off your dining experiences for 2018, if you haven’t already been there.

I don’t think there was anyone more excited than myself at having the doors to Cleo opened, because I was promised that Chef Danny Elmaleh’s flavors would take me on a culinary adventure, as he had adapted his original Cleo menu with local Bahamian ingredients.

I salivated at the thought of being able to partake in what was said would be delicious sharable plates, mezzes and flatbreads. I couldn’t wait. And I certainly was not disappointed.

The only disappointment as far as I was concerned was that my tummy could only hold so much even if I took a bite here or there.

Ordering small plates can be deceiving — especially for me, because I tend to overdo it — and I most certainly did. I went into Cleo and was seated at a floor to ceiling window table that offered an amazing view of the pool and ocean that set the tone for the evening.

Without even perusing the menu I knew I had to order the hummus. Yep … hummus lover here; I order it whenever it’s on a menu. And over the years I’ve had some hummus that I can pass on having again, but the hummus at Cleo, served “masabacha” style (the first time I’d had it this way) which means chickpeas are left whole in the creamy, lemony sauce of pureed chickepeas just waiting for me to scoop it up with the herbed, warm from the oven laffa bread. Ummm … yum! It was delicious and the perfect start to my first Cleo experience.

Knowing how much I love dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), I had to order the mezethakia platter as it also came with spanakopita, babaganoush, beets two ways and harissa carrots — and I needed my fix of smoky, creamy babaganoush, which was also served with laffa bread for my scooping delight. A bite of spanakopita, beets and harissa carrots were the order of the day, because I needed to pace myself with so many goodies to choose from. An authentic tagine had to be had. I had a choice of market vegetable (caramelized honey, castelvatrano, shug, chickpea, and yogurt); Moroccan lamb (apricots, apples, silan, saffron rice, raw almonds, and sesame seeds); and fish and shellfish (spicy tomato, artichoke, harissa, cilantro and saffron). Choices! Choices! Choices!

The deciding factor in going with the Moroccan lamb was going after a taste of traditional. Visually stunning, it was also flavorful and aromatic with that taste of sweet from the fruit with fork tender lamb.

I almost felt like I’d been transported out of The Bahamas to Morocco.

Now to be honest, there were so many other menu items that tempted and teased — the roasted veggie quinoa salad, green falafel (I do so love a falafel), lamb shawarma and sliders, grilled octopus, meatball shaksouka, saffron chicken, Chilean seabass, sumac fries — which is just a sampling of an enticing menu, that it’s going to take quite a few dining experiences to get my fill of this restaurant, especially with Mediterranean cuisine being one on my all-time favorite dining experiences.

The “eyes were big”, but thank goodness I know my limit.

I simply can’t wait until I darken Cleo’s doorsteps again.

When Mediterranean cuisine is done right, you can find yourself in a culinary haze of delight.

If you’ve never enjoyed Mediterranean cuisine, Cleo is the perfect venue at which to broaden your palate.

And the ambiance isn’t to be sneezed at either. Cleo features one of the best views on the podium with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the ocean as you dine in a warm, intimate, but energetic space.

With Cleo, the diversity of Baha Mar’s restaurants have definitely been taken to another level as far as flavors, and offering something for every discerning palate.


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