New in Petaluma - The Athenian
There has been a rotating series of restos across from Whole Foods on E. Washington St on the corner at Edith St. Semolina was there for years, then a brief stab at a BBQ place, then I notice new paint/sign. Ah Greek food! A block from my house? I'm there.
When I went in and looked at the menu, it was identical to the old Papa's Taverna carte. Down to the Greek iced tea and tzatziki sauce, my heart quickened. I asked the waitress and yes, the old owners of Papa's have blessed the neighborhood. Lana and George greeted me with open arms. It was like coming home. I spent many lunch hours at the old Papa's on the river south of town in the early 90's and here, 20 years on, she's at it again.
The food is good solid greek cooking but the warmth and hospitality are off the charts and something that fine chefs sometimes never master. Greeks, and to some extent other middle easterners seem to have it in their blood.
If you loved the old place's chicken pitas, moist mousaka and soft skordalia. You'll be in heaven. No website and I wouldn't expect to see one. But for now their hours are M-S 11:30 - 9pm, closed Sundays. Phone 707-762-0600. Convenient if you're headed to/from the coast.
Disclosure: I love the living heck out of these people and would lie, cheat, steal, stand in front of a charging minotaur for them. Selah.
Finally ... East Coast Greek diner food ...only better...much better.
Friday night they make lamb shanks. If there are any shanks leftover, the Saturday special is lamb shank pitas. It was spectacular.
The soft, pillowy pita held pieces of lamb shank as tender as a mother's love.
Chow should add a worst writer of the week category to the digest and I nominate the previsous sentence.
It was wonderful lamb shank though. Everything anyone would want from lamb shank. Nestled in the heavenly pita,it was topped with grilled onions,garbanzos, black olives and chopped tomato. Mentally I was thinking with each bite ... mmmmm .... mmmmm.
The lady at then next table was actually making that noise each time she bit into her gyro made with homemade marinated beef and spices. It was almost a "When Harry met Sally" moment ... but she wasn't faking it.
The pita sandwiches can be ordered with one or two sides - salad, fries or soup. I got a cup of the garbanzo soup. Who knew garbanzos could be so tasty? The creamy broth seemed to have a rich chicken stock as the base.
The Greek tea (1 refill) was nice enough. The main spice though seemed te be cloves ... not my favorite spice. It can be ordered sweetened or unsweetened.
I ordered the bugatsa for dessert ... OMZ (oh my Zeus).
I'm not a fan of Greek desserts in general, but wow. When the plate was set on the table there was a lovely aroma of citrus. It is a thick warm custard wrapped in thin phylo lightly brushed with honey. Don't miss this.
The Saturday night special is lamb kebabs.
From the outside it doesn't look like much... a redone fast food joint. It is very pretty inside in colors of blue and white. Silk blue wisteria hang from the front counter at the entrance. There is a nice mural of the Acropolis on one wall. The ceiling is painted sky blue with white clouds. Lovely Greek music was playing.
It is far from fancy, but cheery and pleasant.
The owners are such wonderful, welcoming people.Lots of vegetarian options here. They hope to have a wine and beer permit by the end of the month.
If there were indeed food gods, they'd eat here.
Thanks for the writeup, and I'll be trying their food soon. I'll have to say, though, that I was always disappointed in the food at Papa's Taverna on the river, even "way back". I wanted to just like the food because I loved the location, but never found the food more than barely OK. I look forward to a better experience in this new place.