I heard this place is bumping at night...plate breaking, dancing, the sounds of "Opa!" yelled with each raised glass of ouzo. Hell, one of my coworkers said the last time she was here at night, the waiters made everyone get up and do a line dance that went outside the restaurant, out to the sidewalk and then back inside.
But during the day, you'd never know that The Great Greek was such a partier. I've encountered daytime "GiGi" twice now and both times she'd come off as a plain-jane, a recluse, a wallflower with her quiet, empty dining room, a few customers scattered around her very Ventura Blvd-ish covered patio. Like an annoying nosey mother or friend, I started judging our little introvert: Hmm, she really needs to get out more, be a little more outgoing...how's she ever going to find someone for herself like this???
Perhaps she attracts with her domestic abilities, I thought. Outward personality isn't everything. Maybe she pours all her passion into her food and then will end up snatching up some lucky fellow who just longs for great homecooked meals made with love. Uh, I don't think our little friend here fared very well in that department either. Frankly, her cooking just did not impress.
I gave her fourteen (yes, fourteen!) chances to wow me. Not as in I've been there fourteen times, but more as in the "Spectacular Greek Deluxe Family-Style Feast" that me and two of my coworkers ordered in which you get 14 of the restaurant's specialties for $14.95 per person($21.95 at dinner).
First of all, let me just point out that I think we only got thirteen dishes. I could be tripping, but as I reviewed my photos and matched 'em up with their website menu, I kept getting thirteen. She can't count, either? My gosh, GiGi, what can you do?
I liked the four Mediterranean dips with pita bread, or spreads, or whatever you wanna call 'em, the best, though that's not saying much because I've had better elsewhere. She makes good pita bread, I'll give her that. It's warm and fluffy, perfect for scooping up those spreads whose consistencies were nice, thick and creamy. Our tzatziki was cool and refreshing, with little slivers of cucumber to add a little texture. Our lightish orange Greek caviar "Tarama" had a nice briny flavor, though it tasted a little too much like the lox spread that I get at my local bagel shop. The hummus and eggplant "Melitzanosalata" were both creamy and mellow, and lacked a much needed kick.
A decent tzatziki
Eggplant Melitzanisalata & lox spread, oops, I mean whipped caviar tarama
A just "allright" hummus
I actually enjoyed our salad of Greek fassolia beans also. Mixed with red and green bell peppers, onions and olives tossed in olive oil and vinegar, these "beans on steroids" were firm, but had a nice, velvety bite. I did not, however, like the Greek Village salad which was supposed to be your typical Greek salad, complete with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, bell peppers, and feta cheese. Whatever dressing they used was goopy and slimy, and purely disgusting.
Greek Fassolia Beans
A very slimy Greek Village Salad
I've had better dolmas out of a jar. Seriously. A little lemony and a little oniony, these dolmas tasted allright, but once again, there was something slimy about these. It may have been because its seasoned rice filling was a little overcooked; or it could have been the sooo unnecessary light yellow hollandaise-ish sauce they used to top wach one of the little bundles. Whatever the case, I think GiGi here could learn a thing or two about about dolma making from Trader joes, even.
Our "golden fried "kalamaria," which was you guessed it, fried calamari, was decent though just your typical fried calamari, and I wish I could have traded in the crap I'm about to describe for more of it. I bit into one of the "keftethes," seasoned meatballs, and it was so dry and tasteless that I wondered if it had been made of a combination of beef and cat litter. I'm usually a big fan of the phyllo, spinach and cheeese pastries spanakopitas and I was excited to try their moussaka, what they described as the "national dish of Greece"--baked eggplant, ground beef, Greek spices and bechamel sauce, and their baked pastitsio--"pasta layered with ground beef, herbs, tomato, and bechamel sauce," until I tried them, that is. Each one of them may as well have been cheaply made cafeteria casseroles, the worst thing being that I know it was one of these that made me burp some gnarly stuff all afternoon. Sorry for the disgusting details but hey, I gotta speak my mind!
The only decent thing in this picture was the calamari, and they're way in the back.
Her spanakopita did nothing for me
Pastitsio, or your mama's macaroni casserole?
So it was to my surprise when I heard from some of the others in my group that our GiGi lets her hair down at night and really knows how to throw a party. Yeah, I should have known--it's usually those quiet types, huh? Too bad her cooking doesn't get any better at night, but I guess after a few glasses of wine and fun surroundings, I guess the food would become secondary.
The Great Greek
13362 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423