It was a mini Monday escape when we stepped inside Athenos Greek and Lebanese Cafe.
Large, appealing murals of a pretty countryside and majestic mountains took us to another place. Textured walls in ivory, gold and orange-red, arched doorways and interesting-looking hookahs displayed on sconces completed the decor.
The eatery was practically filled but adequate space between tables made for easy, pleasant conversation while we perused the extensive menu. The lunch offerings were more condensed but likewise varied. We chose the Jordanian pressed wrap, something we’d never had before; and two Mediterranean cuisine standbys, the vegetarian plate and chicken shawarma salad. Our server, Gabrielle, quickly arrived with our iced teas.
The Jordanian wrap ($8.95) offers gyro fans a neater option than the traditional pita wrap. With this version, gyro (chicken is also an option), feta and mozzarella cheeses, tomatoes and onions stuffed the large tortilla, which was then pressed and grilled, with the marks to prove it. Arriving at the table already sliced in several pieces made for easy eating with a fork, as opposed to trying to hold on to the wrap while the stuffing falls to the plate. All elements were fresh and flavorful, and a little dip in the creamy Grecian sauce added to the experience. This dish came with one side, and the hummus we chose was satisfactory but nothing special.
The vegetarian plate offered a fun sampling of generous sizes of signature dishes at a reasonable $8.95. The attractive plate featured eggplant musaka, spinach pie, grape leaves, hummus and feta salad.
All the items were delicious, particularly the eggplant musaka (often spelled moussaka) and the tender grape leaves stuffed with delicately seasoned rice. However, the filling of the spinach pie, with its delightfully flaky crust, seemed a little on the dry side.
The chicken shawarma salad ($8.95) was the perfect blend of marinated chicken and lettuce and tomatoes. Just enough feta cheese and olives add to the taste without overwhelming it. It’s the kind of salad that you should take your time to savor with each bite filled with a blend of garlic, cumin, olive oil and other spices. Pita bread is included for diners who want to make their salad into a pita. The bread was fresh and a nice complement to the salad.
We took home baklava ($2.95) and a brownie ($4.95) for dessert. The phyllo dough pastry was layered with honey and nuts. The waitress thoughtfully put some take-home directions on the container: microwave for 30 seconds, then cover with the accompanying syrup. The brownie was a large, thick square of the fudgiest kind, drizzled with chocolate sauce. Both were wonderful last notes to the meal.