Athenian Restaurant takes ‘colossal’ fall

Greece has finally come to town in the Athenian Restaurant. At first glance, the restaurant’s front looks like it has old columns classic to the long ago era.

The Grecian inspiration is present. A closer look at the restaurant reveals the columns are just slanted slabs of concrete to create the distance effect.

Inside, the restaurant looks classy with statues in the fashion of old Greek art. There are panels on the walls giving descriptions of the Greek gods, such as

Hestia and Poseidon. Each table has folded black fabric napkins and a lit boxed candle. The clientele seemed to be older and the menus were basic laminated papers held by three silver rings.

A family member accompanied me, and we were seated immediately. The head of house pulled out my chair for me, which no other restaurant staff has ever done for me. It had a soothing atmosphere and wasn’t crowded.

The bar was through another entryway, and I could see it wasn’t very busy.

It was decorated with an old Hollywood Spartan helmet. Greece was obviously emphasized at every angle.

As a recent addition to the culinary experiences of Midland, the new restaurant does its best to impress. And in design, it certainly does.The restaurant’s front sign states “It’s all Greek to me” and says it all for the menu.

As a Greek restaurant, the dishes have the names given by its homeland. The descriptions are not helpful if you don’t have previous knowledge of Greek food.

The servers seemed to know the menu and were helpful, but I still felt lost. Restaurant menus should give good descriptions since the servers will be busy bustling around the other customers and getting orders.

Greek is not a common language or popular culture in this area, so I doubt many people know what a tzatziki is. It is a yogurt dish with cucumber and garlic, but the menu did not say this. All it said was tzatziki.
I did not know any of this type of cuisine going in, and as I later discovered from the lackluster taste and looks, I wouldn’t want to.

When we were going to order our drinks, our waitress said no Dr. Pepper was available, and the waitress didn’t seem to possess a great knowledge of drinks. They had no specialty drinks or even lemonade.
The first dish was an option of soup or salad, and I picked a soup. It was not warm, and the leaves of basil were big. In one spoonful, I got a leaf the size of my thumbnail, and it was not pleasant.
Cooking programs where fresh spices are used always warn about cutting leaves small. It’s just not pleasant to me, but that could be a personal preference.

For the main course, I had a beef dish where meat and rice were wrapped up in grape leaves, with Greek potatoes and spanakorizo as sides.

The menu had no description for any of the side dishes and no section on available drinks. Thanks to having no descriptions, I found out spanakorizo is a spinach and rice stew with lemon only after being served.

Holding nothing against spinach or rice, I gave it a try. The texture was a bit slimy for my taste.

Everything else on the plate had far too much dill. Potatoes with dill, meat showered with dill, rice with dill – it was just gross.

The potatoes were sliced, cooked and spiced, but biting into it revealed a slight sour taste.

One of the five potato slices was undercooked, and this was the only thing I could finish.

As for the grape leaves around the meat, they were sitting in yellow liquid “sauce.” When I scraped my fork through it, the liquid acted more like a gel and had a waxy feel.

Dessert was simply okay. Baklava, a dish that tastes of cinnamon apples and nuts, is something I at least recognized. It wasn’t ambrosia, almost too sweet on the first bite, but at least it washed out the dill and was good.

Online, the Midland Reporter-Telegram said the restaurant was open at 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The menu said it was open at 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. This causes confusion, and negatively affects customers. I couldn’t find an official restaurant website either to get a peek at the menu. My only sources were Yelp and the online MRT, and the information did not match up.

The Athenian Restaurant looks nice, but has poor advertising and food that is just not up to its prices.