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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Twelve in Ten Challenge: Ari's Restaurant

I got this post done just in the nick of time, being the last day of February and all. It's been such a crazy short month with Ryan and I both traveling for business as well as the weekend trip to IL. Before I knew it the month was nearing its end and I still hadn't completed one of my goals for my Twelve in Ten Challenge (new readers, you can find more info about that here). To make things easy, we opted to hit up one of our restaurant picks rather than tackle one of the hands-on goals. Our restaurant of choice: Ari's Greek Restaurant.

This restaurant made the list for no other reason than the fact that we'd driven by several times and I would always say "hey we should go there sometime"...mostly because it's a Greek restaurant and also because they have an outdoor seating area that always looks so appealing in the spring and summer. Ari's does not have a website so we were unable to check out a menu or glean any more information about the restaurant. Essentially, we went into it totally blind.

The restaurant is made up of several different rooms, but in total the restaurant itself isn't that huge. It also had a little bar area where a number of people were sitting and I believe carry-out orders were being picked up. The room we were in was fairly intimate and we had parties on both sides of us, so I was a little self-conscious about bringing out my camera and only took quick pictures of our food.

Ryan and I love Greek food and have a special love for gyros. There's a great hole in the wall place near our house that serves giant gyros that are absolutely fabulous for a nominal price. So we had high hopes for the gyros at this little restaurant. I wasn't all that hungry so we opted to get the giant greek salad and then the large gyro plate to share. Our waitress assured us that this would be enough food for the two of us.

They did give us a basket of sliced bread when we sat, which we nibbled on while taking in the sights and sounds around us. Ari's is anything but fancy, it's probably a place that gets steady business from its regulars (we had a group of them sitting to the right of us) and then a few other stragglers, like us. In fact while we were eating, one gentleman entered the restaurant asking if they served pizza. The waitress was quite adamant that they do NOT serve pizza and teasingly questioned him, "Don't you like Greek food?". That being said, the menu had a number of both Greek and American dishes on it (everything from flaming cheese--which we saw two tables order--to hamburgers to a rack of lamb).

Our waitress brought out our salad first (pictured below) and we were a little disappointed. Ryan and I both love a good Greek salad and Ryan is particularly picky about his, having actually spent some time in Greece. This salad was fairly large, but consisted of mostly lettuce. The feta was severely lacking and I believe there were a total of 3 olives on the entire salad. Even so, I really liked the dressing and we had no problem finishing it off.

Shortly thereafter, we were brought the gyro plate. Contrary to what our waitress said, the serving wasn't huge (probably enough for one, but not necessarily plenty to share, had I been super hungry), especially when compared to our favorite gyro place. However, there was a fair amount of feta on the dish, unlike the salad. The lamb was perfectly seasoned and wasn't as greasy as our usual place, which I appreciated. The tzatziki sauce was great as well, and you can't mess up warm pita bread :)

All in all, it was an okay dinner, but I have to say Ari's didn't meet my high hopes. The food was good enough, just not worth making a trip back for, especially when we can get our favorite gyros for twice the size just down the block. The prices were reasonable, but again, not worth returning. I'm still glad we tried it--you can't win them all--and now I don't have to drive by anymore, wondering how Ari's fares.

Ari's Greek-American Cuisine on Urbanspoon