With locations already established in Woodland Hills Mall and Promenade Mall, the new It's Greek to Me restaurant in the SpiritBank Event Center positions itself in one of the fastest growing areas of Bixby. Restaurants and businesses are opening fast and furious in this south Memorial Avenue area of 105th Street.
Founder and owner Antar Affify and his wife Huda came to the U.S. in 1990 and opened the Promenade Mall location some eight years later. Five years after, they opened a second restaurant in Woodland Hills Mall. Now, they've expanded their restaurant into their first "dine-in" venture and third location in the northernmost location of the Event Center.
A dining room (compared to not having one before) presents new basic challenges that don't exist in a mall setting. The evening I came to dine, a friend and I noticed a few unpleasantries upon entering the restaurant. Diners expect (and deserve) a clean and appealing environment. We were there within two hours of closing, so it was not a busy time. The center of attention in the dining room was the large screen TV.
When we entered, we were not greeted with a "Hello," but rather "Next!" This was unnecessary since we were the only ones waiting to order. We approached the counter where the menu displayed bright photographs of the selections on the wall.
The pictures were appealing with familiar and traditional items, such as gyros and a Falafel sandwich (each $4.49), as well as dinners such as a Cabbage Roll dinner ($6.99), Grape Leaves dinner ($6.99), Falafel dinner ($6.99), Mousaka dinner ($7.49) and Shish Kabob dinner ($7.99). Appetizers included cheese sticks ($2.99), hummus with pita bread ($2.99), onion rings ($2.69), Baba Ganoush ($2.99) and fried mushrooms ($2.49).
My friend and I decided upon a number of items to try: onion rings; Baba Ganoush; Gyros and Rice Dinner ($6.99); Greek dinner and drink ($6.99); Lamb Shish Kabob and drink ($8.99); and a Falafel sandwich ($4.49). The servings are very generous, so we had plenty of leftovers.
We began with the onion rings and the Baba Ganoush. The rings were coated with a slightly sweet batter. They were hot, large in size, and the crust was moderately crispy but the onions soft.
The Ganoush, which is a very popular Middle Eastern dish/dip, is made mostly of eggplant, tahini, and a paste prepared with sesame seeds and olive oil. (The eggplant is boiled, baked or grilled before peeling.) This was a very nicely-done Ganoush; the paprika sprinkled on top added a peppery-smoked zing and splash of color to a few of the top-layered bites. The predominate taste of the ganoush was a lemony zest. We used very light and soft pita bread for dipping.
I had the Gyros and Rice Dinner, which was just that: slices of gyros meat with white rice; it came with a side salad of iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes and black olives and topped with a light vinaigrette dressing. The gyros meat was flavorful, but slightly dry. I did have a few crispy pieces, a nice taste juxtaposition to the soft meat. Flecks of spices and black pepper were pressed into the meat to heighten the meat's flavor. The tabouli - a popular Middle Eastern version of a salad - was basic but on the dry side. The lemony taste had an even balance of parsley, onion and tomato. The white rice (big and round grains) was moist and soft.
My friend's Greek dinner had more of the same: gyros meat, rice, tabouli and hummus. He found it very good. The lamb kabob was marinated in a lemony-garlic mixture; the lamb pieces were bite-sized and tender. Despite some tough pieces, the lamb had a rich flavor. Two kabobs were served over white rice and came with tabouli, hummus and pita bread.
Finally, we tasted the Falafel sandwich. A tubular shaped and fried falafel ball was served on soft, malleable pita bread with a yogurt sauce, sliced iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes and onions. One of my all-time Greek favorites, falafel is another popular Middle Eastern food that's often sold by vendors on street corners. It is made with mashed chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander and cumin. It is rolled into a desired shape and then fried.
This falafel had a green color and was dry inside, but the pita bread and yogurt sauce made it a very delicious sandwich.
It's Greek to Me
10441 S. Regal Blvd.
Atmosphere ** Food *** Service **
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