It’s been some time since I was in Greece. One of the highlights of my visit was eating in the home of a friend just outside Marathon. Her parents lived in a second-floor apartment in the ancient city. It was supposed to be a stop-by, but when we arrived our group was astonished to see a dining room table laden from corner to corner with food. It was the best meal of our trip!
I’ve enrolled in a Greek History course this fall with Wash U’s Lifelong Learning program, I thought it might be good to get into the spirit of the thing with an authentic meal. Since a return trip to Greece was out of the question, I decided on a meal at the family-run Greek restaurant, Olympia Kebob House and Taverna on McCausland.
It was such a pleasant evening, just right for sitting on the patio, but there were no seats available. Indoors we had the choice of a table or booth. I had no sooner slid into my seat, when I felt a warm glow over my shoulder and turned to see the Flaming Cheese being ignited at the next table. The kasseri cheese dish known as saganaki was being flamed in brandy tableside. The show of pyrotechnics caught me off guard. I fumbled for my iPhone camera, but was not quick enough to catch the display.
Greek Comfort Food
With, or without fireworks, the place has a warm and welcoming feel of a neighborhood restaurant, which is one of the reasons it’s been around for the last 35 years. My son and I ran onto several tables of people we knew, which always add to the ambience of an evening.
The menu had every Greek dish on it I could think of—and then some. We ordered the Greek Salad, that was sprinkled nicely with olives, tomatoes and feta and two entrees: Eggplant Parmesan and Moussaka.
Because I’m always looking for humor, wherever it can be found, I was amused by the menu entry for Moussaka. The ground beef-tomato-potato-onion layered dish was described as being, “topped with cheese and béchamel, a light sauce made with butter, cheese, milk and egg.” Now I would never use the word light and moussaka in the same sentence and apologize for doing so now. But any dish with a proper béchamel sauce—as this one had—is best described as glorious. Calories be damned.
There’s so many reasons to return—and soon. In the interest of my Greek History study, I need to develop a cultural and culinary perspective and there’s so much on the menu to facilitate that. My research will definitely include their highly acclaimed gyros, the Saganaki (flaming cheese), the Mediterranean Combination Platter, and the Tzatziki Sauce with pita along with a hearty: OPA!!
Olympia Kebob House and Taverna, 1543 McCausland. Open: Mon-Wed 11a-10p; Thu-Sat 11a-11p; Sun 11a-9p. Parking: Large parking lot directly across the street.