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Greek Islands - Chicago - My personal benchmark

Greek Islands - Chicago - My personal benchmark
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  • Post #31 - June 15th, 2009, 2:54 pm
    Post #31 - June 15th, 2009, 2:54 pm Post #31 - June 15th, 2009, 2:54 pm
    ron, you've sold me on Greek Islands. next time i'm in the area, that's where i'll be. thanks! :)
  • Post #32 - June 17th, 2009, 9:55 am
    Post #32 - June 17th, 2009, 9:55 am Post #32 - June 17th, 2009, 9:55 am
    I am a pretty big fan of Greek Islands, usually Lombard, but I do think there are good, and not so good, things on the menu.

    Seafood and meze good. (Though, for some reason, the stuffed squid and the bacalao are the two dishes in the whole world that consistently give me heartburn. Makes no sense to me.)

    Grilled and broiled items, generally pretty good.

    Roasted and braised items, generally only okay at best. The steam table effect.

    Lima beans, taramasalata with a side order of anchovies added to the mix, fried smelt, and possibly a grilled fish make a perfect meal. I will switch to lamb at times, but I know that the only really good option there will be the grilled chops. Still, there is a time and place for roasted and held lamb, so long as one is prepared. Sort of like dining in a cafeteria.

    When I am actually in Greektown, I get seduced by other options, and so usually do not go to GI. Artopolis is fun, though Santorini is more often where I dine.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #33 - June 18th, 2009, 8:54 am
    Post #33 - June 18th, 2009, 8:54 am Post #33 - June 18th, 2009, 8:54 am
    Ronnie,

    I must thank you for this inspiring post on the Greek Islands. I have long loved Greek food, yet never could embrace any of Chicago's many Greek restaurants. I myself had even been to Greek Islands many years ago, with a large group of non-food-centric acquaintances, and formed no impression of the place at that time.

    But your post caught my attention, and last week we visited Greek Islands with a more amenable group. To my surprise and delight, everything was as good as you had proclaimed.

    I was especially impressed by how hard the kitchen works even on the basics. For example, skordalia is often flawed by a too-harsh flavor of raw garlic. But not at Greek Islands. I assume the garlic must be blanched first, because it has a beautiful, strong, clear, fresh flavor, without being raw or harsh.

    Most everything was very good, and several dishes better than good. The grilled octopus was a marvel, one of the best versions I've had of one of my favorite dishes. The addictive fried zucchini were miraculously thin and of pillowy lightness, scantly coated with an intriguing and deliciously spiced (cinnamon?) flour.

    The restaurant even thoughtfully supplies two kinds of bread, an excellent French-style loaf as well as the traditional seeded bread. A critical issue for a cuisine that features dips and spreads.

    It is true that some of the casserole-type dishes (pastichio, moussaka, spanakopita) were merely competent. But those are dishes that hardly permit inspiration. The spreads, seafood and meats were all delicious, of good quality, and expertly prepared.

    Service was attentive, adroit, even at times witty. All this while the restaurant was crushed, nearly every table taken, and hordes more waiting to be seated.

    I could go on, but thankfully, you already have. It takes some cojones to come onto a board like this; to take as your topic a group of tourist-driven restaurants purveying a homely cuisine possessing chic neither highbrow nor low; to approach that topic with fresh, unjaded, enthusiastic curiosity; to pursue that interest with years of examination; and finally to stand up tall and unhesitatingly declare one out of that group to be the clear champion. Posts like these are what the Internet is for!

    And for me, you discovered a restaurant I had already visited, and showed me what I had failed to see on my own.

    Bravo, and thanks.
    Harry V.
  • Post #34 - January 1st, 2011, 2:04 pm
    Post #34 - January 1st, 2011, 2:04 pm Post #34 - January 1st, 2011, 2:04 pm
    It has been about a year and a half since the last review on Greek Islands(at least in a Greek Islands dedicated thread), so I was wondering if things have changed since then since we came out somewhat unsatisfied from our lunch there yesterday. Neither one of us liked the gyros. They lacked flavor, no meat nor seasoning taste came out. The moussaka was good, it was a nice comforting dish but this time I couldn't taste the eggplant, at all! But the baked chicken with rice and potatoes was awesome. Well-cooked and flavorful. Maybe we should have tried grilled items instead ( = should have read this thread ahead of time)
  • Post #35 - January 3rd, 2011, 12:51 pm
    Post #35 - January 3rd, 2011, 12:51 pm Post #35 - January 3rd, 2011, 12:51 pm
    Can't write a detailed post now, but we've been going to the Greek Islands for so long that our early experiences with them were in their previous location on Jackson, east of Halsted. We were there last night for a family dinner and the six of us were all remarking during and after the meal how especially good everything was--the fresh seeded bread, tarama, saganaki, salads, avgolemono, gyros, spanikopita, dolmades, pork chops, and grilled chicken breast. Every bite was great, and at the end of the meal my 86 year old father was so happy he started ordering ouzo shots like some teenager doing jagers.
    See, I'm an idea man, Chuck. I got ideas coming at me all day. Hey, I got it! Take LIVE tuna fish and FEED 'em mayonnaise!

    -Michael Keaton's character in Night Shift
  • Post #36 - January 17th, 2011, 5:32 pm
    Post #36 - January 17th, 2011, 5:32 pm Post #36 - January 17th, 2011, 5:32 pm
    Just a great experience here for an early dinner on Saturday. What impressed me the most were the managers of the front of the house. The great atmosphere starts with their enthusiasm and efficiency. As an example, when we were ready for our check, I glanced up to look for our waiter. He had his back to me, but a boss saw me glance at him, looked at the waiter and then looked at me, and within seconds the waiter was at my table.
    And the food was great, particularly the lamb chops. Several seafood entrees were perfectly cooked, and the teramosalata was a hit. My seven year old was wowed by the saganaki routine, and he polished off a hefty serving of lemon sorbet at the end, which impressed me with the two spoonfuls I managed to sneak.
    The food and service were so good that my wife and my mom got along reasonably well for once!
  • Post #37 - October 8th, 2019, 9:00 am
    Post #37 - October 8th, 2019, 9:00 am Post #37 - October 8th, 2019, 9:00 am
    I love GI. Stopped in just for chickpea soup last night. Great soup!

    Will be back in shortly to sample the avgolemono. Going to do a taste test between GI & Santorini across the street...
  • Post #38 - October 8th, 2019, 9:37 am
    Post #38 - October 8th, 2019, 9:37 am Post #38 - October 8th, 2019, 9:37 am
    My, a lot has changed in 11 years. I've more or less written off GI because of repeated disappointments there. Glad to see they're still putting out some good soup. My new personal benchmark for Greek is, unquestionably, GNR Psistaria in Lincolnwood, which was taken over by 2 GI vets back in 2012 and currently reins supreme.

    =R=

    Psistaria
    4711 W Touhy Ave
    Lincolnwood, IL 60712
    (847) 676-9400
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #39 - October 8th, 2019, 11:06 am
    Post #39 - October 8th, 2019, 11:06 am Post #39 - October 8th, 2019, 11:06 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:My new personal benchmark for Greek is, unquestionably, GNR Psistaria in Lincolnwood, which was taken over by 2 GI vets back in 2012 and currently reins supreme.
    Psistaria isn't bad by any means, some appetizers I really enjoy. But putting them over Plateia on Milwaukee Ave (unincorporated Des Plaines technically?) is insane. Their grilled octopus and calamari is just total game over. I can't recall any disagreement, from anyone, saying that it's not the best octopus they've had.
  • Post #40 - October 8th, 2019, 11:10 am
    Post #40 - October 8th, 2019, 11:10 am Post #40 - October 8th, 2019, 11:10 am
    bweiny wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:My new personal benchmark for Greek is, unquestionably, GNR Psistaria in Lincolnwood, which was taken over by 2 GI vets back in 2012 and currently reins supreme.
    Psistaria isn't bad by any means, some appetizers I really enjoy. But putting them over Plateia on Milwaukee Ave (unincorporated Des Plaines technically?) is insane. Their grilled octopus and calamari is just total game over. I can't recall any disagreement, from anyone, saying that it's not the best octopus they've had.

    Good to know . . . of course, the glories of Psistaria run a lot deeper than their octopus and calamari, both of which are excellent.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #41 - October 8th, 2019, 2:25 pm
    Post #41 - October 8th, 2019, 2:25 pm Post #41 - October 8th, 2019, 2:25 pm
    bweiny wrote:Plateia on Milwaukee Ave

    Plateia is news to me, the menu looks very good, and it'd be a much shorter drive than Greektown. Thanks for mentioning it.

    (p.s., Hey, Esteemed Coordinator, perhaps you would consider Plateia as a candidate for an LTH North lunch, before you are overthrown? I'm intrigued --- about both possibilities. :lol: I'll check it out first.)
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #42 - October 8th, 2019, 2:53 pm
    Post #42 - October 8th, 2019, 2:53 pm Post #42 - October 8th, 2019, 2:53 pm
    Katie wrote:Plateia is news to me, the menu looks very good, and it'd be a much shorter drive than Greektown. Thanks for mentioning it.
    It's pretty convenient from Lake County (the further west within, the better, I guess) because of the Golf Rd exit on 294. If you like grilled octopus or calamari, it's essentially satisfaction guaranteed. Don't fill up too quickly on the bread, you'll want to sop up the lemon-buttery sauce from the seafood with it. Their bar program is pretty good too. I tried a rum cocktail on special a couple weeks ago, and it tasted like a spiked Mario's watermelon lemonade, only $8. Enjoy, whenever you make it over there.
  • Post #43 - October 8th, 2019, 3:27 pm
    Post #43 - October 8th, 2019, 3:27 pm Post #43 - October 8th, 2019, 3:27 pm
    I’ve been a Psistaria fan since their original location on Lincoln just S of Lawrence back in the early 90s.
    I recently had a disappointing plate of orzo and lamb. The orzo was just oily and flavorless. Everything else was great so I figure it was an aberration.
  • Post #44 - October 8th, 2019, 8:44 pm
    Post #44 - October 8th, 2019, 8:44 pm Post #44 - October 8th, 2019, 8:44 pm
    Octarine said:
    I’ve been a Psistaria fan since their original location on Lincoln just S of Lawrence back in the early 90s.


    Psistaria was on Lawrence a bit west of Western since before I moved to Lincoln Square in 1976. The Touhy operation was a second location that later became their sole location. IIRC the Lawrence location closed sometime in the 1980s.

    Perhaps you were thinking of Barba Yianni's Grecian Taverna, which opened after many of the Lincoln Square Greek restaurants had closed and has had multiple owners over the years. Barba Yianni's is in the third storefront south of Lawrence on Lincoln.

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