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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Olympia - Greek Combo Platter (For 1) & New England Clam Chowder

Olympia on Urbanspoon

I've been a fan of Greek food since the first time I tasted it several years ago, thanks to a good friend, whose love for his Greek heritage is only surpassed by his zeal for sharing said heritage with all who will stop and listen. What better to bond over than a culture's food?

My love for Greek food led me to Olympia, located on nearby Lyell Ave. Olympia has another venue out in Greece on Flynn Road, but I have yet to make my way out to try it. Morgan and I have now been happy customers of the Lyell location for about two years, and each time we go we're greeted with hospitable staff, quick service, and reasonable prices. Compared to the bill, the portions provided are more than exceptional. The menu includes a wide variety of Greek, Italian, French, and American diner-inspired dishes, comprising a fairly standard, family-friendly selection; Olympia is the perfect place to stop for some warm, familiar, comfort food.

A restaurant named "Olympia" seemed like a pretty good place to get some authentic Greek fare, but picking to eat there proved to be the easy part - choosing between Spanakopita, the Gyros Platter, and the Olympia Pasta ended up being a much more daunting task. In the end, I decided to go with a little bit of everything by ordering the Greek Combo Platter. Normally served to feed two, the cooks at Olympia are kind enough to offer this in a single-serving portion. The Greek Combo Platter consists of a slice of spanakopita, beef kebabs, chicken kebabs, pita bread, tzatziki sauce, and a Greek salad with house dressing, all served over a gargantuan mound of Greek-style rice pilaf. A side of soup is also included, in case you're not content with eating only a small city. The platter was also supposed to include stuffed grape leaves (which I have had served with the platter in the past), but for some reason they forgot this particular evening (not that my waistband was complaining much). Regardless, this heaping landslide of food serves as a veritable Greek sampler for Olympia, and is well worth the 12ish dollar menu price.

To start, I chose New England Clam Chowder for my side of soup.

Most New England Clam Chowders I've had have been quite thick, cream-based soups, that tend to be almost too substantial of an appetizer, due to the heavy broth and massive quantities of starchy potatoes within. However, Olympia's chowder was thinner in consistency, which allowed me to enjoy a full cup, without filling up too much on it. The broth itself still maintained a rich, milky flavor, while clams added that perfect seafood tang to balance out the sweetness of the cream. The potatoes were firm enough to add great texture to the soup, but soft enough to soak up the amazing flavor of the broth. Overall, a great start to the meal.

After literally scraping my bowl clean with my spoon, the main course was served.

I wish I could write that I had finished the entire platter, like a competitive eating champion, but I barely managed to finish off three-quarters of the massive avalanche of Greek cuisine in front of me; still, in the interest of this blog (and my own curiosity), I tried a little bit of everything.

The rice pilaf was a perfect, buttery (king-size) bed of starchy goodness, and helped break up the overtly meaty flavors of the kebabs. Each kebab came with grilled peppers and onions, along with seared chunks of beef and chicken, which proved to be a great combination when eaten together. I enjoyed the chicken both by itself, and combined with other ingredients on my plate, but the beef actually was cooked a little too long, and had lost a bit too much moisture (and therefore flavor) during the grilling process. Unfortunately, this also made it a little tough, but I compensated for these issues by wrapping some of the beef, some lettuce from my salad, a few pieces of grilled onion, and some tzatziki sauce in a piece of pita bread, to make a mini gyro of sorts; the tzatziki sauce helped take away some of the beef's dryness, and all of the ingredients added excellent flavor to the meat and bread. The pita bread alone was soft, light, and (much like the rice pilaf) a great way to break up the meal's strong individual flavors.

The Greek salad included delicious, crisp iceberg lettuce, fresh black olives, tomatoes, cucumber slices, sliced red onion, and a liberal helping of feta cheese. I chose not to use the house dressing, since it would have soaked into my rice pilaf, but I did sample it, and found it to be smooth, rich, and both sweet and tangy (possibly due to dill). The only complaint I had with the salad was the excessive feta cheese; now, I absolutely love feta cheese almost as much as the next Greek cuisine enthusiast, but in this quantity in proportion to the rest of the salad, the flavor was a bit overpowering, and I found myself pushing some of it off of my greens.

My favorite part of the entire platter was the spanakopita; the pie itself was soft, light, flaky, and buttery, and was well-balanced with the spinach's mild bitterness. While I'm not entirely sure of which spices were baked into the pie, I can say that they were not overwhelming, and added subtle peppery and earthy undertones. My mouth is actually watering as I write this.

While not the greatest meal I've had at Olympia in recent history, the great service, comfortable atmosphere, excellent variety, and affordable price tag will, without a doubt, have Morgan and I coming back again. If you're in the neighborhood and want a generous helping of warm comfort food, or just need somewhere to grab a quick coffee and piece of pie, Olympia is definitely worth checking out. Who knows? We may even end up bumping into each other there.


Score (out of 10): 8

Location: 2380 Lyell Ave, Rochester, NY 14606
Phone Number: (585) 429-6231
Website: N/A

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