Greek Isles (Closed)

Maria says…

Cuisine: Greek
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The bottom line: One word comes to mind, delicious!

I took a look back at the restaurants I had recently reviewed and well it dawned on me that I had been sticking too much to Tex-Mex food lately. So I decided to switch it up a little for you guys (finally! I know that’s what you are saying :)) and go for something a little different. During a recent girls night out I gathered a group of us and we all went to get Greek food for dinner. Of course there was also dancing involved after dinner but there will be another post on that later. A girls night is not a girls night without dancing, am I right?

However, for now lets talk about food. The restaurant we went to is called Greek Isles and it’s located in one of the booming sections of Charlotte right now, South End. The location is very convenient since there is also a lynx station located within walking distance, hence making it easy for anyone who wants to grab dinner here and then head uptown afterwards. Upon entering the restaurant one of the things that I noticed is that it has a big dining area. Once you are past the entrance you will see to your left the hostess station as well as displays filled with Greek desserts like baklava and loukoumades (so do I really have to get real food for dinner or can I stick to the sweets!?). Towards the end of the dining area you will also see an open space that leads to the kitchen. The decor of Greek Isles invokes traditional imagery through the use of columns and beautiful scenery of the famous Greek Islands (hence the name I suppose lol). The restaurant overall has a family oriented feel and the wide open space is a big plus.

When I received the menu I really wasn’t sure of where to start. My background in Greek food includes eating dishes like baklava, gyros, and spanakopita. Actually during my college years there used to be a Greek restaurant near campus and I was known down some gyros on an almost daily basis. I also absolutely love hummus so I knew I wouldn’t have trouble there. But this time I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and try something different. The first place I looked to was the listing of the traditional Greek dishes. Feeling somewhat adventurous I went ahead and ordered a dish called dolmades. It was the grape leaves really what caught my eye!

Dolmades is composed of grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice, topped with avgolemono sauce, and a side of marinated beets. Although I wasn’t sure of what the avgolemono sauce was I went for it anyways. Turns out this sauce is made of eggs, lemon juice, and broth…not so bad after all! Once I got my dish the first thing that I ate was the marinated beets. I really enjoyed them a lot! The beets were thickly sliced and had a hint of acidity to them. The acidity more than likely is provided by some type of vinegar included in the marinade. I really couldn’t get enough of them. Generally beets are sweet so once you got to eating them you start of with that hint of sweetness and by the time you are done your taste buds are left with just a hint of sourness…both tastes though complimentary to each other. From the beets I then moved on to the stuffed grape leaves. Wow what an experience! Generally speaking the flavor was great. I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what herbs were used to flavor the stuffing but both the rice and ground beef were delicious. The meat was finely ground so it blended very well with the pieces of rice. Now were this dish stood out was texturally. The grape leaves proved to do what I thought they would, give you that surprise in texture from the get go. At first you have to get used to them because the leaves are tougher than what you would expect so you have to chew through them. However, once you do you go from this rougher texture to the smoothness of the rice and beef. The avgolemono sauce ties the dish together by providing a creamy feeling and thus complementing the difference of the other ingredients.

Besides the dolmades you will also see pictured the spanakopita. This dish is made of sautéed spinach, feta cheese, and herbs wrapped in filo dough. It’s also served with Greek oven potatoes. The serving is generous so go very hungry if you plan on getting this dish! I stole (actually my friend offered) a piece of this and it was also divine. It was cheesy and the filo dough was so light and flaky. I’ll be back for more! You can also see a picture of the melitzanosalata, which is roasted eggplant, garlic, onion, and lemon blended, and it’s served with pita bread. It basically is hummus but made with eggplant instead of chick peas. My friend who ordered this said she thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

I am so glad I took a dive out of the Tex Mex train and went for something different. I promise I won’t get stuck in a food rut again!!  I thought the service was good but granted there weren’t that many people at the restaurant when we went. They do have their own parking lot which is good because we all know how parking can be sometimes. The dinner price menu can seem a bit pricey with dishes ranging from the $12 – $22 dollar range but I feel there are other places that charge around the same during the dinner time. All of the friends I went  to Greek Isles with had actually already eaten there at least once before and they said they had not been disappointed by the food. I know I’ll definitely be back and try something different.

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