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Published: Thursday, 6/24/2010

Restaurant Review: Rumors ***


If there's a word to describe the portions at Rumors Restaurant, a 20-year-old family-owned staple of West Toledo, that's it. In particular, should you order one of the 14 Mediterranean specials ($10.95 to $23.95), odds are you'll walk out with enough leftovers for a second meal.

Just north of Westfield Franklin Park on Monroe Street, Rumors is convenient, offering long hours, liquor, and a kids' menu.

Booths form a horseshoe around the large bar, over which hang a couple of TVs featuring sports and, on one night, a canoodling couple. No decor awards here: Walls are paneled, windows face the parking lot, and tables are pushed together to accommodate groups.

There are plenty of American standards, from big breakfasts to sandwiches (tuna, corned beef, burgers, and chili dogs), and dinners of steak, chicken, and liver and onions. Meals are delivered quickly and presented well, though on one occasion I had to remind the server of every extra request two and three times. Baskets of fresh pita are accompanied by a nondescript "spread" that I wish would have been butter. To me, "spread" screams of penny-pinching.

Of several dishes I tried, my favorite was moussaka. Served hot, it melts into a mush of comfort with eggplant, potatoes, ground beef, cheese, and a tomato-based sauce, but without the usual cinnamon and allspice. It was one-third of the Greek trio ($11.95) that includes a substantial slice of good spinach pie and several stuffed grape leaves. The latter was my least favorite, filled with some rice but scant meat and vegetables as the menu promised.

My companion's falafel dinner ($11.95) had eight crunchy balls of the deep-fried blend of chickpeas and fava beans. When the balls cooled, the coating was too thick for my taste, making them a chore to eat even with the nice lemony dip. Fresh onions, peppers, olives, and tomatoes on the side were welcome.

Dinner salads are quantity over quality: about two packed cups-full with lots of crunchy iceberg ends, feta cheese, olives, and too many cukes, all swimming in dressing. (Tip: If you like a light touch or think you'll have leftovers, request dressing on the side. My drenched salad was a green puddle by the time I got home.)

The lamb shank ($11.95) pleased another companion, who praised its tenderness, flavor, and tomato-based sauce. She figured the fluffy rice had been cooked in mild seasoning.

I had the sizable shish combo ($18.95). We estimated the total meat weight at a pound, and the hummous at about the same. Best was the grilled kabob on a skewer. Three half-chicken breasts were a tad dry, and a kafta patty tasted best when slathered with one of the three sauces (two white, one red) that came with the platter.

Hummous has a nice texture with a mild tahini flavor, very light on lemon and garlic. A stiff gin and tonic was a deal at $3.50.

Given the dinner portions, I can't imagine that Rumors sells many desserts, but we sampled the cherry cheesecake ($3.25) and found it sweet, frothy, and massive.

A downside: On two visits we were in booths and the place wasn't full, but others were herded to sit near us, providing big portions of conversations we'd rather not have heard. Clumping patrons together may be convenient for servers, but we'd prefer tranquility whenever possible.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com.

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