Food for the Gods 

From Mt. Olympus to Prospect Lake -- Zorbadillo's

If Greek cooking is Greek to you, head over to Zorbadillo's at Prospect Lake for an immersion course. The menu is extensive, and mostly in Greek (with English subtitles), so you'll leave with a full belly, a smile on your face and a smattering of a new language.

If Greek cooking is off-putting to you, you culinary coward, head for the last page of the menu and select something from the list of standard Mexican dishes: burritos filled with pork, beef or chicken, and topped with red or green chile; pork, beef or chicken tacos; or enchiladas. This is almost the adult version of a kid's menu: tried and true, nothing you haven't eaten many, many times before.

I urge you to be brave and try one of the Greek specialties at Zorbadillo's, whether you are familiar with them or not.

You may not have tried kalamarakia, lightly battered and pan-fried calamari served with a lemon garlic mayonnaise and tzatziki, a yogurt and cucumber dipping sauce. Perhaps the adventure you're looking for is arni fournou, roasted lamb redolent with oregano, served with kritharaki (orzo pasta with chopped tomatoes) and briammi (assorted roasted vegetables, most of them zucchini).

The caveat that Zorbadillo's menu is still a work in progress is printed right on the cover: "Pre-Grand Opening Menu." A more permanent menu is in the works; I am sure it will be no less ambitious. Presently you can choose between six soups -- lentil soup, bean soup, fish soup, fish soup Cretan style, chick pea soup Thessaly style, and Soupa Avgolemono, a chicken rice soup fragrantly flavored with lemon.

There are six salads including one they call the Mediterranean, a typical Greek salad with tomatoes, feta, dill and olives atop romaine lettuce. The most interesting one we found was the Horiatiki Salata (or Peasant Salad). This is a simple dish of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and bell peppers, topped with feta, olives, oregano and olive oil. Other salads are variants of the Mediterranean: add shrimp and calamari and call it an Aegean Salad; add grilled chicken and it becomes Salata me Kota. Ditto with gyro meat. These are nice light alternatives for diners with small appetites.

One could make a meal of appetizers alone. Nibble your way through the Greek Isles with Stuffed Grape Leaves, Melitzanosalata (roasted eggplant spread -- fabulous on thick Greek pita bread), or Keftedakia, meatballs cooked with tomatoes and herbs. If you thought feta was the only cheese in Greek cuisine, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Three other tangy cheeses are available -- kasseri, kefalotire and kefalograviera, either together in the cheese platter or individually as a side.

Carnivores will be happiest with the hot appetizers, among them grilled lamb, pork and chicken kabobs, and marinated gyro meat, all spiced with oregano and olive oil. The grilled kabobs are especially flavorful, the meat moist and tender. As with the cold appetizers, a sample plate is available, large enough for several to taste. I highly recommend this, especially if you are unfamiliar with most items on the menu.

Souvlaki and gyro sandwiches are the mainstays of any Greek restaurant and generally the standard by which comparisons are made. The chicken and lamb souvlaki are particularly good here, though the tzatziki, was not as piquant as I remember from New England (where Greek restaurants are ubiquitous). The spanikopita we sampled was the size of a Rubik's cube, and packed with fresh spinach and feta. All these dishes as well as the house specialties like Moussaka and Pastitsio come with your choice of side: green beans with bits of tomato; kritharaki (see definition above); fries or Patates Fournou. This latter dish, roasted potatoes, Greek-style, was the winner despite the okra that accompanied it. The green beans on one visit were overcooked and mushy; on another visit they were perfectly al dente.

All these items are available in the evening, but I'd heartily recommend the Chicken Riganati, half a roasted chicken seasoned with lemon and oregano, one of several choices offered after 5 p.m. I'm not sure what the gods on Mt. Olympus eat, but roast chicken is a good bet. You can also build your own combination plates, an entre-size version of the appetizer samplers. Everything at Zorbadillo's is designed to entice you to try new things.

And to be in a Aegean state of mind. The building is lantern-lit, whitewashed and colonnaded. The parking lot is fenced with white lattice to block out the traffic. Greek instrumental music lilts in the background. Inside the building, sunlit stained glass windows depict fish; olive jars, baskets and stoneware decorate the space inside and out. You'll feel the urge to wander down to the harbor to watch the fishermen haul in their nets, but Prospect Lake and the occasional misguided seagull overhead will have to do instead.

Best to linger over a strong Greek coffee and a piece of perfect baklava -- none of that shortcut dousing with honey that too much baklava experiences. This baklava has just enough honey to hold the walnuts and pistachios together, just enough honey to be sweet without being painful. A fitting end to a pleasant surprise at Prospect Lake.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Nancy Harley

Latest in Dining Reviews

All content © Copyright 2018, The Colorado Springs Independent

Website powered by Foundation