Friday, February 26, 2010
The Greek Corner: Simple food, Greek flavors (even in the Italian options)
As the traffic clogged Interstate-4 meanders through the heart of Orlando, it takes a small hop over Lake Ivanhoe. The lake, a placid blue gem, is also home to an equally quaint (and blue) Greek restaurant.
I've heard and known about this place for many moons. And interestingly enough, it has taken me several visits to write this review. I suppose I grown accustomed to this place.
Greek Corner is not new and it's not swank. You’re not going to go there to impress on a first date (unless it's a blind one and you need the picturesque lake view as a conversation starter). This is a place meant for small groups of close-knit friends to enjoy simple food and gossip over some beer and wine.
At one occasion, for an appetizer, I ordered the calamari which was fine- tasty, but suspiciously imitating prepackaged, frozen bag flavors. I requested extra wedges of lemon whose acid greatly improved the dish. The accompanying marinara was scant and definitely needed to be more generous. I proceeded things with the Greek salad. This is the pièce de résistance of the restaurant- an intricate marriage of hearty, simplicity, and delicateness. The crunch of the lettuce contrasted with the dressing, and the acid notes of feta cheese gave great flavor to the dish. At first bite, the tongue gets busy deconstructing everything but it’s at the very end that the integrated bolus becomes greater than the sum of its parts. I can’t get enough of a salad- imagine that. I’m usually conquered by this salad feeling completely satiated without even having space for coffee at the very end. My mother should take note of this and stop complaining that I don't get enough fiber into my diet.
On other occasions, I’ve tried the Chicken Francaise and a lamb Gyro. I noted the clean Greek flavors even in an Italian dish such as the Chicken Francaise- lightly battered chicken with a sauce that was not too creamy and but pleasantly lemony. On the Greek side, the lamb Gyro was very satisfying with definite layers where the tongue can clearly taste every single ingredient- almost like reading this very sentence. Semi-thick slices of well-done lamb with roasted red bell-peppers and onions were embedded in pita bread that was wrapped in foil. This Gyro pairs very well with either of their Greek beers (I’ve tried both). A side of homemade potato wedges rounded off the plate to a sensible lunch option.
The service has always been decent. It’s definitely not for the needy customer who wishes his server to hover around him or her like a fly. Return clientele are always greeted with a smile… and occasional Greek banter if you’re native.
Try to score a shot of Ouzo at this place. I prefer it after the meal as the licorice spirit acts like a post-dining mouth-freshener. The name of this establishment misleads it to be an exclusively Greek menu. However, I have given the proprietor the benefit of the doubt that he probably wants to attract a broad consumer base... and sneakily turn them on to Greek cuisine.
IN A NUTSHELL: When in taste doubt, ask for lemon wedges. It enlivens all their entrees up. It’s simple food at a not-so-expensive bill. An ideal place for an outdoor lunch. Gobble the gyro as you watch I-4 pulse rhythmically over the bridge on Lake Ivanhoe. This is soul food- Greek style.