If a doctor told me that I would die if I had another bite of Neomonde, I would be surprised if I lasted three weeks, and that’s being generous. My estimate is fueled not by a personal craving or even liking of the place; if it closed tomorrow, I would not notice and I certainly would not lament the lose. Nevermind, I would DEFINITELY notice its lose, because Raleigh would probably stop eating. I know the company I work for would not cater without Neomonde. I don’t think double dates happen outside of Neomonde. And you certainly are not an educated eater of the Triangle if you cannot discuss Neomonde like it’s your PHD dissertation. This restaurant has the most ardently defensive fanbase I have ever encountered, but I have always felt like there was something amiss here. The reputation of this place is suspiciously out of line. Almost like it was stolen from a Mediteranian place that actually has amazing or at least better food, but 487 people giving a restaurant a 91% like on UrbanSpoon cannot be a fluke. So what’s going on here? This is a case for the Hungry Detective.
Research: After numerous disappointing dining experiences, I decided that Neomonde’s entrees, from sandwiches to kabobs, are so lack luster that I would stop ordering them. I always finished my uninspired entrees and looked over at my devoured side items, which are always above par, and wished I had more of that instead, and by “that” I am not talking about anything too crazy or exotic, for instance Neomonde does amazing things with corn. How often can I say that? Neomonde also has the best hummus that I have ever had. It is flavorful and creamy and I could snack on it routinely. Most impressively, Neomonde has a macaroni salad that doesn’t make me yawn. Building my dream platter, I would order: corn, chicken salad, black beans, roasted eggplant, hummus, tiziki(it makes me so mad they count tiziki as a side), and falafel. It is hard to find good falafel and this place has the best falafel that I have found in the triangle so far.
The Complication: Neomonde has side items that I really like and could gladly eat two plates of, but that’s not a restaurant to me. A restaurant has a signature dish on their menu, and entree items that stand out in design, execution, or flavor. There is nothing at Neomonde that I couldn’t live without or have trouble finding at any Greek or Mediteranian restaurant. Why is Neomonde so popular?
The Thrilling Conclusion: I’ve reached the conclusion that Neomonde is a glorified salad bar. They treat their meat like meats, but their heart is in their breads, side items, and operating more like the deli/bakery that is in their title. So maybe the fan base is right and my expectations are wrong, but you know what, I’m not a deli/bakery kind of guy. I don’t like paying $10 for five scoops of side items. I can make corn and chicken salad and I can definitely make better chicken and a better pita wrap than Neomonde. So if you like delis, try this place, but if you like to EAT when you eat out, go to a restaurant. I think Neomonde does a fair job of keeping up with its reputation, BUT it will never go above or beyond what you are expecting and with a delusional fan base behind it, Neomonde will never have to change, but for the rest of us, we will walk away asking, “Is that all?”
Side note: I’ve heard that Siti is a sister restaurant to Neomonde and it was a RESTAURANT. I have eaten there once and I can say that I really liked Siti and after I eat there a second time, I will work on reviewing it.