Monday, January 25, 2010

The Greek Islands Restaurant

Great balls of flaming cheese! Talk about an entertaining environment!  We saw about 8 of these cheese infernos in the time we were there.  And not only are they fun to watch, but tasty to boot!  Opa!

Greek Islands is located south of downtown, neighboring Shapiro's and Iozzo's...not bad company.  A little out of place with it's bright blue paint, once inside, it all comes together.  Intimate, open and inviting describes the ambiance and the waitstaff do their part to add to that family restaurant feel.

 After ordering a glass of the house red, we simply had to start off our meal with a Saganaki.  Graviera cheese flamb├ęd table-side in ouzo then sprinkled with fresh squeezed lemon juice.  At first we assumed you were really paying for the show, but upon our plate's arrival, we knew differently.  There is a reason why almost every table in joint ended up with one.  It's a must have.  Creamy and oily with a flavorful chewy exterior.  Perfect with the ever-present warm pita.  

We then decided to split the Greek Islands combination plate -- Generous helpings of Moussaka, Pasticcicho, Dolmades, Gyro meat, Spanakotiropita, and Tiropita.  The single entree was more than a match for both our appetites.  The Moussaka was easily the best either of us has had.  The eggplant and meat melded perfectly and made you feel like there was an old Greek grandma back in the kitchen.  

The Pasticcicho seemed like simply a lesser version of the Moussaka.  It was basically the moussaka with the eggplant substituted with macaroni.  We quickly passed this one by on the way to the wonderful Gyro meat (all for Libby) and the only Dolmades that either of us have enjoyed.  Both the Spanakotiropita and Tiropita (small stuffed phyllo pies) were delicious.  Perfectly crispy with creamy spinach and cheese stuffing.  Yum.

Ozzy opted for the kid's spaghetti with the sauce on the side.  He has recently decided that he loves dipping everything, but this time he quickly asked that we pour it on top.  It was a big hit.  This mixed with a playful waitress made for a very happy Oz.  The loud atmosphere was also very good for both kids and parents alike.  Any shenanigans would not upset nearby tables.

Libby lucks out again!  Greek twice in one month???  Well, she had Dinner Club to thank for that.

Wrap Up
Price-$$-$$$, A fair price for scratch-made meals.
Atmosphere-***, Fun with flames erupting every few minutes and exclamations of Opa!
Service-****, Everything about our service screamed family business that really cares about their customers. 

Fred - B+, While the house red was uninspiring, I think a few rounds of Ouzo would push this into A territory.  Perhaps next time!
Libby - A, Solid food, fun atmosphere, happy kids = happy parents.
Ozzy- A, Plentiful bread, understanding waitstaff and a good red sauce.  What's not to like?

Greek Islands on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Canal Bistro Mediterranean Grille

New Year's Eve gave FLO the opportunity to go out as a family and enjoy a year ending feast together.  As usual, the most difficult part was figuring out where to go.  Canal Bistro had been on our short list of places to try since we saw it during a beautiful summer walk on the Monon this year.  Located on the White River canal, the outdoor seating always looked so tempting in the evening sun.  Finally, on the coldest part of the year, we decided it was time to check it out.

We were psyched and surprised to see there was a small parking lot (and an open space!) located next to the building and were not surprised to see we were one of two four tops in the joint.  Our waitress was welcoming and happy to see us.  Inside, the decor was unique and fun...a little upscale in feeling, but like most Broad Ripple establishments, a relaxed atmosphere that welcomes jeans or jacket.

For those not aware, Fred is not the biggest Grecian cuisine fan.  The closest he gets is Turkey(loves Bosphorus), but Greece has not been his fav. Libby, on the other hand, LOVES Greek and relished this rare opportunity to try one of the several Greek venues in the Indianapolis area.

We chose to start with their appetizer sampler, the Mazza plate; falafel, tabbouleh, humus, tiziki sauce, tomato, cucumber, spinach pie, feta, and pitted black olives.  Freshly grilled yummy pita came as the table bread.  The falafel and spinach pie were the shining stars of this plate.  The falafel was perfectly fried and had a well-melded mild flavor...really tasty in the humus.  The spinach pie was absolutely delightful.  Lightly crisp that left your fingers greasy and your mouth happy with the creamy spinach filling.  Tabbouleh can be a difficult thing to eat much of with so much parsley, but it was fresh and light, a nice garnish(though there was more of it than anything else).  The humus was good, but not memorable. The feta and olives were of great condition and quality.  Overall, a nice appy, but Fred and Libby agreed they preferred the similar option at Bosphorus.

As it is really the Greek meats that Fred dislikes, he chose to sample the grilled feta sandwich-feta, tomato, cucumber, olives and spices grilled inside a large pita(?) or other flat bread.  A solid sandwich made special by the very creamy feta that Fred wishes he could repeat at home.  On the side came the orgasm of the evening.  Originally requesting just fries, the waitress questioned whether Fred wanted them with feta and garlic...yes, please!  What arrived are FLO's new favorite garlic fries in town.  Move over Boogie Burger, these are the best garlic fries around!  How is this accomplished?  We suspect a garlic infused oil is the portal and more of that delicious, extra creamy feta.  If the concept of creamy, crispy garlic fries intrigues you, then give these a try.

Libby, with a great love for gyros, had to try the Gyros platter that included more of the delicious feta and olives, buttery rice, some cucumber, tomato, lettuce and tiziki sauce.  An unusual feature was the manner in which the gyros meat was presented.  In the past, Libby has experienced the thin sliced variety, but this was cut in short chunks.  Oddly, it made a difference.  Libby prefers the thin sliced, more done edge that come with most gyros platters and sandwiches.  The flavor was good, but the texture was not as desirable or pleasant as with others.  Sadly, the tiziki seemed to need salt.  Creamy enough, but little seasoning.  The rice was standard.  Overall, it was good, but not the best Libby had had by any means.  Fred sampled the meat and found the texture not to his liking either-big shocker.

Ozzy was not left in the cold here.  There was a kids menu.  Options included gyros, chicken strips and something else he wouldn't eat(no recollection).  He chose to try the chicken strips and fries.  To our delight and his chagrin, they use their own batter...Ozzy did not approve, but Mommy and Daddy like.  An odd and sadly happy development for Mom and Dad was a curious and new appreciation for ketchup.  Since when did Ozzy decide he liked dipping?  Yay!  A new love for fruit?  ;)

Wrap Up
Price-$$$, With no alcohol, at lunchtime, we were still talkin' $60.
Atmosphere-***, Interesting decor and welcoming environment.
Service-****, One of the coolest waitresses we have ever had!

Fred - B+, If I have to be dragged to a Greek place, this would be my choice.  While the Brugge's frites still reign supreme, these feta garlic fries are an easy number two.
Libby - B+, So glad to finally enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean!  Although it wasn't the best of it's kind I've had, it was good and a happy meal overall.
Ozzy- B, Loved the fries(and ketchup!) and the atmosphere, but a short kids menu with little for carbotarians to enjoy.

Canal Bistro Mediterranean Grille on Urbanspoon