New Milford eatery has Mediterranean flare

The new restaurant, Flames Mediterranean & American Grill, at 12 Daniel St. in Milford, on June 13.

The new restaurant, Flames Mediterranean & American Grill, at 12 Daniel St. in Milford, on June 13.

MILFORD >> Flames Mediterranean & American Grill may not have a patio, but thanks to the new restaurant’s folding glass walls, visitors recently were still able to enjoy a recent pre-summer heat wave.

The establishment opened recently and already the seats closest to the walls on either side of the entrance, which open up like doors by folding in, are proving the most popular in the place.

“The doors cost so much, but they’re worth it,” said Flames owner Walied Hanaif.

Mayor Benjamin G. Blake, who recently had lunch at Flames, said it is a great addition to the downtown.

“This is great food and the location is something special,” he said. “They did such a nice job with the renovations. It has a great vibe.”

Hanaif, of Palestinian descent and a resident of Ansonia, said he’d always wanted to open a sit-down restaurant — he previously owned a deli in New York City — but couldn’t find the right location. Then, on a trip for ice cream downtown Milford, he drove by the former bookstore at 12 Daniel St.

Hanaif said when he saw the “For Rent” sign in the door, he knew he’d found the perfect spot. “I’ve always liked Milford,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city to be in.”

With its orange and green decor, including a small lounge-type area, crown molding and a colorful chandelier, the restaurant gives off a cozy and upscale vibe. Hanaif said he hopes customers feel at home there.

“I’ve been seeing the same customers every day,” he said. “They keep coming back and we have new customers coming, too. People are being supportive.”

Despite the usual downtown parking woes, Hanaif said Flames has been busy since it opened. He said he initially ordered 800 to-go menus and ran out quickly. “People are starting to talk about us, little by little,” he said.

Besides the Middle Eastern dish falafel, Hanaif, who is one of three cooks in the kitchen, said it was important to him to offer traditional dishes found in that part of the world.

Menu items include shawarma sandwiches — meats grilled on a vertical spit and served on pita bread or wraps — and tabouli salads with parsley, tomatoes and mint. The restaurant also offers a sfeeha dish, or meat pie, and spinach pie.

There is a limited variety of cakes and pastries for dessert. True to its name, however, the restaurant has American dishes, such as the Flames Burger.

The establishment does not serve alcohol, but Hanaif said customers may bring their own bottles. Flames is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. every day, except Sundays, when it closes at 5 p.m. Hanaif said he initially had planned to close Sundays but nixed that idea when he saw a demand for opening that day of the week.

He said he likely will expand the hours on Friday and Saturday nights this summer, as people are out later when the weather is nice.

Flames can be reached at 203-693-2004.