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Greek Corner Restaurant: Deserved Hype?

Whether it’s with Netflix, projectfreetv.com or actually watched on the day and time that the show airs on the television, every student and/or workingman/woman tries to stay caught up on his or her favorite television series. While I love the drama and not-so-realness of reality television more than the next person, my guiltiest television pleasures are derived from any one of the multitude of food shows. Cooking shows and competitions will always hold a special place in my heart (and stomach), but no cooking show gets my mouth salivating more than Diners Drive Ins and Dives.

For those of you not familiar with this series, Guy Fieri, a former Food Network Star, drives around the continental United States in his classic bright red Cadillac looking for the best in places that may not say, “Stop here, I’m delicious.” He also is champion at finding the “off the beaten track” places.  I cannot help but watch episode after episode on those nights when my stomach has more control over the remote than does my hand.  Each episode shows new and inventive takes on classic dishes or reveals secret (well, not anymore!) family recipes.

On one specific episode entitled “Timeless,” Guy Fieri drives up to nowhere else but to the Boston-Cambridge area, to a specific town in which most Tufts students should be more than familiar with: Medford. The exact location is the well-known Massachusetts Avenue, which brought Guy straight to a little place called “Greek Corner Restaurant.” This joint has been family run since 1989, cooking up Greek cuisine, providing the community with nothing but the finest ingredients and comforting atmosphere. Does that sound close enough to a Guy Fieri introduction?

After watching Fieri scarf down a perfectly-cooked spit roasted lamb, some various kebabs and other traditional Greek fare, I could not contain my curiosity: is this place, or any place that he tries, as good as he makes them seem?  My mission is to seek out which Diners, Drive Ins and Dives restaurants are popular from hype, or sticking around because of a great atmosphere where the food can speak for them.

My friend and I, both avid fans of the show, decided to try a taste of Greek one glorious Friday evening. The atmosphere was just as it was presented on camera: a family-style restaurant where everyone knows each other. These people obviously come back for one reason or another, so my friend and I were gearing up for a great meal. We started off the meal with saganaki. This is an appetizer in which kaseri, a Greek cheese, is sautéed and flambéed. It was brought to the table still sizzling and flaming on the edges, cooled off with a squeeze of lemon over the top. As my friend and I dug into the cheese, we were, unfortunately, underwhelmed. It was, well…nothing more than cheese. It was neither gooey nor creamy but, rather, slightly hardened and not in the least stringy. We dove into the appetizer with the not-so-homemade pitas, hoping that each scoop would bring us some sort of satisfaction. I can honestly say that the appetizer left us a bit underwhelmed and anxious for the meal to come.

Did the main course redeem the appetizer? It certainly did not hurt! I ordered the traditional chicken kebab described as “delicious marinated chicken breast on a skewer.” This description is not far off. The chicken was grilled perfectly, with the center cooked just right, still tender and moist. While I would not have minded having some grilled onions and peppers between each piece of chicken, I can say that they gave a generous portion. However, there was nothing more than a line-up of chicken chunks. The marinade kept the chicken tasting fresh and moist, but did not add so much in the flavor department. The most flavorful part of my meal was the delicious homemade tsatziki sauce. For those of you who are unsure of what this sauce conjures, it is made up of yogurt, garlic, cucumbers, and various spices. The Greek Corner version was mixed to perfection. With a heaping spoonful doused on each piece, I was content. My friend ordered the classic chicken gyro, which had many of the same ingredients as did my chicken kebab, with the addition of superfluous salad toppings (such as lettuce, tomato and red onion). My friend seemed to be content, but certainly not overwhelmed or in a mood to rave about her meal.

While the main course may not have redeemed the appetizer, the dessert certainly came close! We tried their galaktoboureko, a traditional Greek dessert consisting of sweet and creamy custard in between layers of flaky filo dough.  Freshly made that day, the galaktoboureko aimed to please, and my friend and I contemplated ordering a second piece.

For the generous portions and choices of salad and a side of rice pilaf or fries, each meal comes at a reasonable price. The platters range from $10 to a bit more pricy $16, but if you are not in the mood for the add-ons of friends and rice, you can easily order a specialty sandwich, like the gyro, at only $6.50. All in all, the prices did not hurt nor make this Fieri-critiqued restaurant.

While I cannot speak on behalf of the second party who visited the restaurant with me, I can honestly say that overall, the restaurant was not one I would be racing back to anytime soon. On a weekend night, I do not think I would suggest Greek Corner as an option for dinner. Yet, if someone specifically requested a restaurant with a family atmosphere and basic Greek classics, I would reluctantly offer Greek Corner as a suggestion.

-Jay Sheintop

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