Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Greek Islands

Location: 200 S Halsted
Cost: About $30 per person

My cousin Ben was in town the other week and gave me a call to meet him and a friend for dinner. You may remember Ben from my meal at Bertucci's Corner. The quick rundown is that he lives in Milwaukee but grew up around here and often comes back for business. He has an authority on some old school places throughout the city that have become somewhat hidden treasures. This time though we went with an obvious choice in Greek Town. It's a pretty tough call where to go eat when you hit the corner of Adams and Halsted considering that there are 4 or 5 restaurants serving up pretty similar food, and they all have a decent rep depending on who you ask. Well his call was Greek Islands, and after a long day at NMH I hopped on the 121 and met up with them for dinner.

Note: this spot also came heavily recommended by many of my readers. I hope those of you that suggested it are not upset with me for going without you.

This restaurant is huge. Because Ben had to go back to Milwaukee that night, we got to dinner at 5:30 when the place was empty. We had the choice of what seemed like four different dining areas. By the time we left at 7:30 there was a moderate wait, so I'd suggest making a reservation even on the weeknights. They have free parking if you're looking to drive.

Our service was just alright, especially considering that we had what seemed like two waiters and four bus boys. It took a while to track down someone when we needed something, but on the other hand, our food came out very quickly. We all went for the family style dinner which was somewhere around $20 per person. In general though, you can get appetizers for around $6 and entrees for around $15. I can't speak to the portions on regular menu items, but I thought our deal was pretty sweet. We all left stuffed, and none of us are lightweights by any means.

The Food
We got the ball rolling with an order of Saganaki, Taramosalata, and Gyros. I've never had an order of saganaki I didn't like. The taramosalata (greek "caviar") had a salty taste with just enough fishiness. The gyros came out a little cold but had a really nice herb rub and exterior crisp. After those plates they brought out a Greek Salad which had pretty fresh veggies, but it was so heavily dressed it was hard to eat.

The Saganaki

The Taramosalata

 The Gyros Platter

The Greek Salad

For our main course they brought out Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Spanikopita (spinach pie), Roasted Lamb, Chicken Kebabs, and a side of potatoes and rice. I like the meat inside the dolmades, but it was topped in this egg-lemon sauce that was a little thick and off-putting. The spanikopita was flaky exteriorly with a creamy spinach interior. It's the best one I've had since going to the Marietta Diner. The lamb was tender, moist, and loaded with flavor. If it wasn't so rich, I would've inhaled it one slice at a time. The chicken kebabs were juicy and came with some nicely grilled peppers.

The Dolmades

The Spanikopita

The Chicken Kebabs

 The Roasted Lamb

For dessert they brought out this platter with Baklava, Galaktoburiko (creamy custard in phyllo dough), and Karidopita (walnut cake). I wasn't impressed by any of these. The baklava was difficult to chew through and was too flaky. The Karidopita was dry. I did like the Galaktoburiko though which was sweet, cool, and had interesting textures that you could chew through.

 The Dessert Platter
(front and center is the Galaktoburiko, the big thing in the middle is the Karidopita)

Greek Islands is great for large groups and small parties. They've got tons of space and a really large variety of options. I think the food was mostly above average, but there's definitely a mantra of extra oil and a little sloppiness that permeates most of the dishes. I'd like to go back and try out some of the fish dishes, but from what I had, I'm giving them 3 out of 5 Pearls.

Greek Islands on Urbanspoon


  1. definitely my favorite greek town spot. worthy of revisit. hope the medical world is treating you well.

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