In out-of-the-way corners around every American university, there is an eatery or two that caters to the campus community. That is, to adults, particularly young adults who no longer live with their parents nor yet in fully equipped homes of their own. Even the best-run dormitory kitchens beg for occasional alternatives.
Near the University of Toledo, Ferdos is one such alternative, serving generous distinctive dishes (in this case Mediterranean), well prepared, and in occasional reach of a student's meager budget. Its appeal draws a steady stream of customers from the larger community as well, and if you enjoy the relaxed, tolerant atmosphere characteristic of such small, cozy restaurants, Ferdos is one to be aware of.
So nicely has the original building been revised for its present role that it's hard to imagine any lingering trace of the gas station/garage that was long a neighborhood fixture near Schorling's grocery store, one of the Ace drug stores, and the northwest corner of the UT campus. One notable arrangement is the sequestration of smokers in a separate, small room far off from the main dining room and full-service bar.
For the most part, the dinner menu is clearly Mediterranean, with hummus, baba ghanoush, meat and vegetable kibbe, and falafel. To my taste, the grape leaves - eight of them to a serving - needed spicing up, being rather bland. And a fettuccine-shrimp entree one evening was improved by two or three shakes of salt.
However, I can testify to the pleasing experience of the house hummus, a scoop of which is routinely served with most entrees, and the baba ghanoush, here listed as baba-gannouj.
My server - one of many who are UT students - assured me quite accurately that a half-order of shrimp kabob was a more-than-adequate serving for most customers. Like many ethnic restaurants, Ferdos normally serves very generous dishes. The server's advice applied as well to the fettuccine-shrimp dinner, which I finished to the last shrimp tail, only because it was so tasty.
Very generous and very attractively seasoned are small to medium mushrooms sauteed in olive oil. For some reason they are not listed among the sides, but the kitchen apparently dishes them up routinely.
Two sandwich selections, a burger with fries and a grilled cheese, are menu concessions to American eating habits, though a Mideast entry, an arayes, quartered pita bread stuffed with ground beef and seasonings, then grilled, comes satisfyingly close.
Even on weekend evenings Ferdos is not overwhelmed with customers - it's worth taking a chance even if you don't have a reservation - but the lunch hour is busy, and it's not a place for a quick bite, because the kitchen moves night and noon at a deliberate pace.
Parking, especially in front, is tight, but there is extra space in back, the only disadvantage being a walk to the entry along the edge of the street.
THEY'RE BACK! Syd and Diane Rogers, the one-time proprietors of the popular Perrysburg restaurant Syd & Diane's, have now opened a deli and gourmet food shop of the same name in Sylvania's Market Square, the Monroe Street strip mall that is also home to the Gourmet Garden and Tony Packo's Cafe West. Open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, it offers a 22-item list of imaginative sandwiches as well as salads, soups, and desserts, all take out or eat in, at very reasonable prices. The address is 5829 Monroe St., the phone 419-882-1231.