Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dining critic candidate No. 25

Greek Grille, A New Choice But Not Quite Ready

Briargate is fast becoming quite an international dining experience. We have our newest feature, Plate, a trip around the world in itself, next to Salsa Brava. In the Union Town Center near Research we have Japanese and Chinese and now the Greek Grille. We were pleased when the Grille moved in because Greek is always a good bet when looking for healthy fast food to feed the family quickly. At Briar-Mart, International Market and Café, across from the Chapel Hills Mall, my kids have learned to branch out from a pita filled only with feta to falafel sandwiches. This winter, though, sometimes even Briar-Mart seems as though it’s on the other side of the Arctic so a closer choice was exciting.

Greek Grille is owner Hamid Adzare’s second walk-up Greek restaurant. The décor is bright, all terracotta stucco, faux ledges and arched windows. It’s hard to believe it’s in the same space that was first occupied by Sheldon’s and then the dark sports bar that followed it. It’s nice and sunny and warm inside. Since the kitchen is visible from the tables it is important that everything look clean and shiny and it does.

The staff admits that the restaurant, which has been open since before Christmas, is in the soft opening stage. Perhaps it’s taken a bit longer than expected to get things together. The first time we went, in the first week, it took quite a long time for food to arrive but things have sped up a bit since then. Adzare is hoping that the staff will be ready for its grand opening in several weeks.

The menu is extensive with all the usual Mediterranean choices. The Veggie Combo Plate was quite large, almost enough for two with the usual mix of rice, Greek salad, spanakopita, falafel, dolmas, and pita with tzatziki sauce. The long grain rice was very appealing, half white and half saffron yellow. I didn’t taste any saffron however; it was disappointing and bland. The falafel was crusty brown, beautifully fried and tender and warm on the inside. The dolmas were moist and warm; I like that better than the cold ones that are sometimes served. They had a pleasant sweet taste at first before I tasted the slightly tart leaves. The pita could not have been made in house as it was stiff and dry and the spanokopita was a bit greasy which ruined the delicate texture of the filo dough.

For take-out one day I tried the standard Gryos sandwich – “beginner Greek” as a new customer was advised. The sandwich is certainly good value for money, $4.09 for a pita jammed with meat and feta. The pita, as with the other plate, was a bit stiff and dry and not warm enough to hug the meat while I ate it. Perhaps a bit more tzatziki sauce would have helped tie it all together.

For dessert there is a choice of baklava or nut roll. Since I never refuse dessert, especially baklava, I went for that. It was nice, but not same day fresh. The honey had fallen to the bottom making the top dry and the bottom runny.

The Greek Grille is a nice addition to the rapidly growing dining choices up north but needs some time to improve. Since the store is already crowded I hope that staff will continue to improve the consistency and freshness of the food so that customers enjoy the best Greek possible. Until then, as long as the weather is good, we’ll make the extra effort to get to Briar-Mart.

Greek Grille

Union Town Center

8844 N Union Blvd


Mon-Sat 11am-9pm

Beer and wine are served


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