Sunday, April 19, 2015

Meliartos (Athens, Greece)

Ermou 65 & Aioulou, Athens 10563, Greece, T: 210-3237-379

Meliartos is a very fancy restaurant selling high quality coffee, ice cream, pastries and sandwiches. It’s situated in the main shopping street of the Plaka district.

I get a cup with two scoops (3.60); I choose Choco-Banana and Raspberry. Both flavors are rather dull. The scoops are big.

VERDICT: 80/100
Mediocre and pricy ice cream.

Quick Pitta (Athens, Greece)

Mitropoleos 55, Athens 10556, Greece, T: 21-0321-1000
Quick Pitta is a modern restaurant that serves traditional Greek meat dishes like Gyros and Souvlaki as both sandwiches and plates. Situated in the heart of the touristic Plaka district, it caters to tourists, but tonight there are almost only Athenians.

I get a Pita Gyros of pork and a side of fries. With a soda it only costs 6, which is very reasonable, particularly given the location. The pita is wheat and has a strong taste, unlike the fairly limited and very thin shaved meat. It comes traditional: no fries, no ketchup, no mustard. The fries are thick and very potato-y, although they are probably from McCain, who seems to have a monopoly on fries in Greece. They are too soft and dry.

VERDICT: 82/100
Definitely not a tourist trap, but also not remarkable.

Cadillac Burgers (Athens, Greece) -- CLOSED!

Voulis 44A, Athens 10558, Greece, T: 21-0325-5240

Caddilac Burgers is a funky little burger bar in the touristic Plaka area of Athens, close to the Akropolis. It has a classic, old-school US theme, including the obligatory Route-66 design. They offer about 10 different types of “real American burgers”, which are more Greek versions of US favorites, as well as fries and onion rings. The clientele is a combination of (mainly US) tourists and hipster/rich Greek twenty-somethings. The two guys behind the counter work really efficient and fast.

I get the Sinatra (3.50), which comes with lettuce, bacon, pickles and bbq sauce. It's a risk, but I'm a bit disappointed by the Greek version of the bacon-chili burger (here the Al Pacino). The burgers are (just) 120 gram of (I guess mixed) minced meat, have a soft consistency, and are prepared on a griddle, which make them a bit crispy. The next day I return for the Cadillac (5), which is a double burger with lettuce, bacon, tomato, caramelized onions, and “Cadillac Sauce”. While the burgers do not taste anything like US burgers, mostly because of the different meat, they are tasty. I also get onion rings (2), which are thick, crusty, and tasty too.

VERDICT: 88/100
Cadillac Burgers serve by far the best burgers I had in Greece.

-------> Unfortunately, when I returned in 2017 Cadillac Burgers was closed.

Olive Oil & Oregano Mediterranean Grill (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Aristotelous 20 / Ermou 51, Thessaloniki 54621, Greece, T: 231-022-3333

According to its own website, “Olive Oil & Oregano is the most successful open kitchen Mediterranean grill house in Greece.” It has locations in Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, and the UK. It offers traditional Greek dishes, such as gyros, Souvlaki and Greek salads. It looks slick and upscale.

I get the Gyros Plate (6.90) with one Souvlaki stick (1.30), Tzatziki (1.50) and a Coke Zero (1.30). The souvlaki is quite dry (not fresh from the grill), while the gyros is extremely fat. The fries are soggy and the pita dry. The salad and tzatziki are ok, but the latter is ridiculously large and overpriced.

VERDICT: 78/100
I would avoid this chain in Greece, as there are much better and cheaper options. If they have the same quality outside of Greece, it’s a fine option, but not special.

Spata (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Aristotelous, Thessaloniki 546 23, Greece, T: +30-231-027-7412

Spata is a big restaurant that combines an open buffet with a more classic gyros place. It has two locations in Thessaloniki. I go to the one at the main square of downtown Thessaloniki. The buffet has all staples of Greek food, while the gyros counter has a high turnover. 

I get a classic Pita Gyros (3), asking to skip on the mustard and ketchup. The pita has more fries than meat and the meat has a weaker taste too.

VERDICT: 80/100
Mediocre and quite pricey. You pay for the location, not the quality.

BaBa.Q (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Agiou Dimitriou 168, Thessaloniki, Greece

BaBa.Q is a chain of “caffé & barbecue restaurants” in Greece. It serves upscale burgers with mostly US names, but also has several Greek variations. It offers a broad variety of dishes: burgers, hotdogs, chicken dishes/sandwiches, salads, and even some pastas.

I get the Piri Piri Nuggets (3.80), which are two sticks with small pieces of deep fried chicken, served with fries and a dipping sauce. The nuggets are crunchy, but the consistency of the “meat” is even more suspect than in the case of McNuggets. The sauce is more Asian sweet and sour than African Piri Piri. The fries are standard fast food fries, but have some US-style dusting. I also get the BBQLuxe (2.50), a burger with bacon, tomato, mayo, and 1000 Island dressing (I get it without the Parmesan). The burger is well presented, but the meat has a soft texture; allegedly it’s fresh, but it certainly is not 100% beef. The 1000 Island sauce gives the burger a bit fresher taste.

VERDICT: 82/100
Not bad upscale fast food burger place where most dishes are individually prepared for you.

Giok Balik (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Eth. Aminis 34, Thessaloniki 546 21, Greece, T: 231-024-0022
Around the corner of the Falafel House is a restaurant, which serves the traditional grilled meats and pitas of Greece. Giok Balik is truly bumping on this (early) evening, so I assume that it must be either really good or really cheap. As it doesn’t look particularly cheap, I decide to check it out.

I get the Pita Gyros (2.80) with everything, which here means fries, mustard, ketchup, and tzatziki (and onion and tomato). The pita is thick but soft, the meat very tasty, and the fries crispy. The various sauces give it all an excellent taste.

VERDICT: 92/100
Giok Balik serves some of the best gyros in Thessaloniki! On top of that, it has a bigger choice of dishes and condiments than at most other places.

Falafel House (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Al. Svolou 54, Thessaloniki 54621, Greece, T: 231-023-8091
Falafel House is a very small restaurant in downtown Thessaloniki, roughly a 10 minute walk from the famous White Tower. Although they only serve a couple of dishes (e.g. falafel, humus, Tabooleh), they are bumping this evening.

I get a Large Falafel (2.60), which comes in Lebanese bead (kind of a wrap) and with humus and Tabooleh. The falafels are quite small and very crunchy (almost as much crust as paste). This not withstanding, it is tasty. I have to stop myself from getting another one.

VERDICT: 86/100
Very acceptable falafel for a place outside of the traditional falafel zone.

Goody’s Burger House (Thessaloniki, Greece)

3 Kouskoura Street, Thessaloniki, 546 22, Greece, T: 2310-222280

Goody’s Burger House is a Greek chain of upscale fast food restaurants that has been around since 1975. After several take-overs it extended its network all over Greece with currently some 150 locations, including 5 in Cyprus and one each in (FYR) Macedonia and Albania. They serve burgers and sandwiches - for some reason they have a thing for Philadelphia soft cheese - as well as salads with fried fish and seafood.

I get one of the "Extreme Burgers", namely the Bacon & Chili Deluxe (5.60). The Deluxe means it comes with fries. It’s not really a chili bacon burger though: rather, it is a burger with a slice of ham and chili past sauce. The burger has a soft texture, minced meat but not just beef. The fact that the thick slice of tomato overpowers the taste of the burger says a lot. The fries are broad, but not that thick, more shaped like canoes. Prefab but not bad.

VERDICT: 77/100
Greece is not a country of burgers, although they are becoming more popular. Goody’s provides an ok, but relatively pricey, alternative to the usual US chains in Greece.

Girismata (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Agiou Dimitriou 22, Thessaloniki, Greece, T: 231-025-3545

This small pita place is recommended to me by the guy at the hotel lobby, who says it is nothing fancy, but the food is really good. Sounds like my kind of place. As I walk over, firefighters are entering the building next door, but I don’t let them distract me from my mission.

I order a Pita Gyros, which is just 2.60. In Thessaloniki a pita gyros does not come (standard) with tzatziki sauce. In fact, the toasted thick round pita comes with pork meat, shaved off the huge skewer, fresh onion and tomato, French fries (!), and mustard and ketchup! I remember being appalled the first time I was in Thessaloniki, more than 20 years ago. I am still shocked, and deep down disappointed, but know it actually tastes good. And it does. The meat is fresh and full of flavor, while the sauces give it a bit of kick. Good stuff.
I returned a couple of days later and had another pita gyros, but this time classic, i.e. tzatziki instead of mustard and ketchup. It was even better!

VERDICT: 91/100
Girismata is one of the best places for a real pita gyros, Thessaloniki style or classic.

Gordon Biersch (Atlanta, GA)

Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Atlanta, GA 30320


Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants is a chain of restaurants that serve basic American bar food and special beers, notably those from their own brewery. They currently have 35 locations in 19 states, including two in Atlanta, and now a new fairly big one in Atlanta airport.

I get a BBQ Burger ($12.65) and ask for no cheese and add jalapeños. The burger is thick and crusty, but fairly dry (despite ordering medium it comes well done) and burnt on the sides. The bun is thick and quite dry too, the jalapeños fresh but not too spicy, and the bbq sauce basic but not powerful. The fries are standard for a US chain like this: thick, salty, but soggy.

VERDICT: 88:100
It's pretty good for a chain restaurant at the airport.