The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's all Greek to me

The husband and I are turning into quite the cosmopolitans. Last month we traveled to New York City and this past weekend saw us in sunny, dry Chicago. We let our native friends there make dinner reservations and they decided on the widely acclaimed, three-star restaurant The Parthenon, nestled in the heart of Chicago's Greektown.

Founded in 1968, The Parthenon has since become a Chicago establishment and tourist draw. Murals of Greek landscapes combine with appropriately classical touches, including faux colonnades, to honor the restaurant's venerated namesake. The family-owned restaurant claims to be the birthplace of the Flaming Saganaki (cheese flamed in brandy), a popular dish waiters flambé tableside while crying "Oopa!" (Greek for cheers or hooray). I wanted to get a photo of those intrepid waiters who lit up five or six dishes at once, but the restaurant was so packed I never could get the shot.

Outside of the veggie gyro at Mythos downtown, I've never sampled Greek food, so my husband and I decided to split a vegetarian combination platter entree of vegetarian moussaka, pastitsio and dolmas, along with an appetizer of mini spinach-cheese pies. For those of you, like me, who aren't familiar with Greek food, here's a quick primer:

Moussaka: Layers of eggplant and meat sauce topped with bechamel (white) sauce and kefalotiri (a Greek cheese)
Pastitsio: Macaroni baked with broccoli, spinach, bechamel sauce and kefalotiri
Dolmas: Vine leaves stuffed with rice, meats and herbs, egg-lemon sauce.
The spinach-cheese pies are just that, wrapped in a flaky, phyllo dough.

The vegetarian options, of course, omitted meat, but for the meat-eaters amongst us, the menu offered a range of choices from a whole fish and other seafood to roasted pig - yes, you can order a whole spit-roasted suckling pig. A few of our friends ordered the lamb, which they proclaimed marvelous, and another liked the chicken breast spinaki (chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta and served over rice). Also offered are seafood and beef selections and an extensive wine list.

My husband really liked the veggie moussaka and I really liked the spinach-cheese pies, but frankly, we both liked the lone quarter-potato most of all. While Greek food may not be for us, it was still a lot of fun exploring a side of Chicago new to us and different foods.

Are there any authentic Greek places around Cincinnati? Where do you go to get your Greek on?


at 8:24 PM Blogger Cin Twin1 said...

The timing of your post couldn't have been more perfect because since last Friday night I have been raving about Mythos. I went there the for the first time, and want to give some major kudos to them for staying open in the evenings. I believe the 4th and Walnut location is the only one that does so.

My hubby ordered a macaroni dish with ground lamb that came with lemon roasted potatoes and a greek salad. I decided to play it safe and order the gyro. The lamb nearly melted in my mouth. I kept saying to my hubby, I would never attempt to make this because I can't make it any better. We polished of our meal with some baklava and some cinnamon and sugar pita chips. I think our total bill was around $20. You can't beat it....the hard part will not be going too often!

at 8:22 AM Anonymous TJ Jackson said...

The best gyros in town are at Sebastian's on the west side. Mythos' food is not very good.

at 8:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second Sebastians!!!! Greek salads there are awesome, and gyros great, too!

at 8:41 AM Blogger Rachel said...

My Hometown co-reporter Shauna also raved about Sebastians. I'm from Cincinnati's east side and like many a stereotypical eastsider, I haven't ventured to the west side often, so this is the first I've heard about Sebastians.

I have to say, though, the very best baklava I've had locally is from Myra's Dionysus in Clifton. I'll stop after class sometimes for just an order of baklava to take home.

at 12:56 PM Anonymous soozycue520 said...

I have not tried Mythos new downtown location for dinner, however, there is no "good" Greek restaurant in Cincinnati, that I know of, along the lines of Chicago's Greektown. If I am wrong, someone PLEASE correct me. I wish we had a more upscale authentic Greek restaurant here. Personally, I am a big fan!!

In Indianapolis, in the Fountain Square district, is Santorini, which has saganaki and many other homemade Greek specialties.

at 1:43 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel: You and your husband went to New York? Your HUSBAND?

My hopes are dashed. Seeing your picture on the blog, I was considering becoming a vegetarian so I could propose.

Now, I'm going back to meat to try to console myself. I hope you're happy.

at 5:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two thoughts, Rombes Restaurant just reopened after some renovations. They have the best greek salad, served with gyro meat on top and includes some warm pita quarters...delicious! They are located in Blue Ash at the corner of Kenwood and Pfieffer Road

Also, St Nicholas Greek Church in Finneytown has a rocking Greek Festival that celebrates everything greek, usually in July. Located in Finneytown on Winton Road, south of Galbraith intersection. They have fantastic homemade food, desserts. Greek Wine, Greek Herbs, Baklava Sundaes, it's loads of fun, with a greek band and greek dancing demonstrations. You should plan on coming. I'm not greek, but this festival always makes me wish I was!

at 12:03 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Soozycue that Cincinnati lacks a "good, traditional" Greek restaurant - like the Parthenon in Chicago. A good Greek restaurant needs to be able to offer more than gyros, Greek salad and baklava. I fell in love with the Parthenon about five years ago when my niece held her bridal shower there. The food choices were authentic, extensive and delish. The service was impeccable with a casual atmosphere - so Greek! I have been searching for a comparable Greek restaurant in Cincinnati with no luck.

Another good Indy choice is the Greek Islands on South Meridian near downtown. The place is small, a little lacking in atmosphere but offers an extensive tasty Greek menu with great prices. Great service too!

at 6:16 PM Blogger Sam Sotiropoulos said...


Though eating Greek food out is good, nothing beats trying a few of the traditional recipes at home. For a few suggestions, see:
Greek Food

Be Well,

Sam Sotiropoulos

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