Sunday, February 26, 2006

Alexander the Great Greek

She: We met with some people from our semi-regular dinner group to try Alexander the Great Greek (3055 Sage, Houston) last night. Although I'm not a really big fan of Greek food, AGG does a pretty good job of it. That having been said, though, it would not be my first pick for a $90 meal for two people.

Four of us in the group split a big sampler platter (perhaps He can tell you what it was called, because I had no idea.) Although I didn't try everything, most of what I did try was fairly tasty. I especially recommend the spinach-stuffed spanakopita, the keftethes (little round meatballs), and the pastichio (a sort of Greek lasagna with ground beef, macaroni, and cheese, plus an interesting hint of cinnamon). I thought that the spanakopita and keftethes in particular had the most flavor.

We added some lamb chops to the sampler platter offered on the menu, but I wasn't a huge fan of those; the one I picked was very fatty and really only afforded three bites of meat. I also wasn't thrilled with the gyro meat included with the sampler platter, but then again, I don't really like gyro meat in general.

Included with the platter was a choice of soup or salad; I picked chicken soup. It was a decent chicken soup, although not really the best version I've had. In addition to orzo and pieces of chicken, the soup had a fair amount of lemon juice in it, which made it a little sour, plus some egg to thicken it up. The lemon juice gave it an interesting taste, but it was just a little too sharp for my tastes.

The dessert, which was the most un-Greek thing we ate, was the thing I liked the most. He and I picked a mocha ice cream cake, which was quite good, if a bit too frozen. If I ever went back to AGG, it would be for the dessert. But, be forewarned: the pieces they bring out are a lot smaller than the sample pieces they use to show you the desserts!

We happened to be at the restaurant late enough to see musicians and belly dancers, which was certainly interesting. However, as usually is the case, the music was deafeningly loud, so if you want a quiet meal, show up early and try to get out of there before 8:30 or so.

After reading back over this post, I realize that most of my paragraphs are "there was something pretty good" followed by a big "but." I guess that adds up to a net zero sum. We had a nice dinner, and I would go to AGG again if I had a reason to, but I also wouldn't go out of my way to pick it if I had the choice.

He: This was probably the best Greek food I have tasted. We shared a dish called ‘King Phillip’s Royal Court Feast’ and added some lamb. The Feast consisted of a variety of warm appetizers with unpronounceable, or maybe I should say unrememberable names. There were little pastries filled with cheese and spinach, some gyro or course, meatballs, a pasta dish that looked a lot and tasted a little like lasagna, baked eggplant, and probably a number of other things I don’t remember. Each component was tasty. The oily, over seasoned aspect I usually associate with Greek food was completely absent. The lamb actually seemed a little flavorless. It could have used a dip in a marinade to provide a counterpoint to the lamb flavor.

We selected a $30 Greek wine to go with the dinner. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name, but it confirmed and expanded my prejudice against Greek wines. I used to think that all Greek wines are harsh and unpleasant to drink. This one wasn’t, but it disappointed by being the blandest and most uninteresting red wine I have had in a long time. I suggest staying away from the wine list.

Aside from the food the dining experience is, well an experience. Our waiter pretty much ordered us to have certain dishes. His selections turned out to be all right, I would prefer not to be press-ganged into eating his favorite foods. There was live music that started at a reasonable volume, but got to be unpleasantly loud as the evening progressed. Two belly dancers provided entertainment, followed by several presumably Greek men dancing while balancing a glass of wine on their heads. All of this provided an ethnic touch, but I prefer a quiet conversation over this form of entertainment.

Finally, it is worth mentioning the cost. We paid $90 for two, which included $10 for the entirely forgettable wine. At first sight this doesn’t seem unreasonable, but there are many restaurants in Houston where $100 will buy a much better dinner for two (without wine).

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