Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Forest Hills, NY
Review by Diana, MaceVindaloo
Sometimes a good date can be had at burnt offering huts. That doesn't sound so promising, but that's kind of the label we give to taverna-style Greek restaurants which feature a grill and some reliable standards. Note the cook is an African-American man, and he cooks under a menu, the kind where you look up rather than look down (which is usually bad news for a date). And this place is named for one of the Greek islands that everyone hears about, but no one really knows where it is or what they do ... makes for a good mythological aura, always helpful on a date.|
This place does the standards really well: pilaf (rice not cooked in water on its own), glazed carrots, lemon potatoes, Greek salads. We had never thought wilted looking salads were a good idea, but the Hut's resident food expert tells us that all manner of vegetables can be marinated in a vinegar-based dressing and be called à la Grecque on menus with French aspirations. And it's actually very good! It's also got those educational placemats which show you where all the islands are and what's located where ... even supposed past locations of stuff, like the Colossus of Rhodes. It's an old place, one assumes there is lots of fun junk everywhere!
Come to think of it, this cuisine is old, old, old. Invasions and trade have changed it somewhat, but basically, Greek cuisine is defined by some very narrow parameters: seasonings include salt, oregano, and lemon. Really. It's the type of food you'd find described in Homer's Odyssey the sacrificing of the "fatty thighs of the sheep" to the gods type of thing. And most of the cuisine is "godlike" in that respect. Thus our designation as a "burnt offering" type of cookery.
But seriously, it's not bad when it's done well. Meats are chargrilled and juicy, albeit well-done. "Rare" is not an option and doesn't seem to be in the Greek culinary vocabulary. The meat is not as tender as other cuisines, but it's more than edible and really basic and tasty. Paired with the standard pilaf, flatbread, hummus, etc. it's a very cheap and very filling repast.
Why can a good date be experience here? It's a hopping place and there was a "help wanted" sign posted out front. It's a new place, so there was one harried waitress who was slowing "losing it" as the place got more and more crowded. So things came faster at the beginning of the evening than later on, but it encouraged us to linger and to savor the food that made it to the table on its own schedule. We found out that these burnt offerings are good cold, too. It let us talk and stuff, things that Satan wanted to do with Saddam in the South Park Movie: Bigger, Better, Uncut. So though it's not a really "fancy" place, it IS a girl type of place. There were many couples here on dates, as well as families. The men fidgetted liberally and often walked around the place not that there was tons of space, but they'd sometimes leave for a cigarette and come back, and find the girl had bookmarked their conversation and would launch out again where she'd left off. (Did he expect her to keep talking in his absence? The world needs to get out more ...)
It was a great place to watch people, as if you were at a big barbecue as the sole non-member of the family that no-one knew about. It was a comfortable place to be, and the bill for all the food you see here was $40 including tax and tips. We took home lots of leftovers and enjoyed them the morning after, which makes burnt offerings an even better deal.
We got: hummus and pita; Greek marinated salad with dolmas and feta; a HUGE Greek appetizer platter note that this is not offered on the menu, but if you ask, they'll assemble a sampler for you. Ours included fried squid, saganaki (flaming cheese!), dolmas, kibbeh, olives a gyro rolled in a pita with salad and yogurt dressing (doner, which is lamb); falafel as a dinner platter, and the same for souvlaki. In general, their grilled things were better than their fried things. See what happens when you stray from your skillset and thus piss off the gods who demand their burnt offerings?
If you are in the 'hood for lunch, note their $3.50 lunch special, as advertised in their window. Hard to go wrong, as long as you go for the godly burnt offerings!
Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!