Situated in the same plaza as the highly celebrated Saffron, is Zooroona, a Mediterranean grille. Given its proximity to such a beloved establishment, I was intrigued as to what offerings Zooroona had which would allow it to exist as a worthy competitor in the Kalamazoo food scene.
My friends and I entered as a party of six into an airy space with two curtained, alcove-like lounge areas jutting out from one wall. The ceiling was tall, with twinkly lights and branches winding around the industrial piping, which was painted a soft blue. A bright mural filled the wall next to which we chose to sit.
Thin bread arrived in baskets outfitted with containers of both olive oil and spices begging to be mixed. Though already satisfied, we also ordered appetizers of more bread and hummus, as well as a cheese platter.
The hummus fell victim to neglect, as the cheese and accompanying fig jam proved more exciting. I didn’t know what the cheeses were, but that in no way inhibited my glee in consuming them.
Next, we were offered soup or a salad as precursor to our entrees. The salads featured fresh ingredients and the lentil soup was mild in heat but interestingly spiced.
Although our friend group included several who follow vegetarian or gluten-free diets, no one had any trouble ordering entrees. The menu was very accommodating, featuring a meatless section with dishes like Galaya, a mixture of vegetables in a spiced pomegranate sauce over rice in addition to a wide selection for meat lovers. A favorite at our table was Chicken Shwarma, which Julia Petroff K’19, a shwarma enthusiast, described as “ the best I’ve ever had.”
For those of us who can provide id, the restaurant also boasts a full bar, complete with bartender and shiny counter. This accounts for the “lounge” descriptor featured on the sign, allowing patrons feel as though they can linger with a drink.
Atmospherically speaking, it is a “nice hybrid of traditional Mediterranean aesthetic and contemporary, hip American décor,” said Jake Mooradian K’19.
Since it was Mooradian’s birthday, the waitress brought him a complimentary gelato, one of several enticing options on an entirely separate menu.
Due to the amount of reasonably sized courses we ordered, we left full enough as to feel as though we were practically waddling to our cars. And in one of the greatest victories of college living, we had containers of leftovers in tow. On the two-minute drive home to campus, we decided that when held next to Kalamazoo mainstays like Food Dance and Saffron, Zooroona definitely brings a lot to the table.