Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We could be gyros, forever and ever...

A while back, in a post I cannot find, I listed a few guilty pleasure foods. To wit:

Pork Rinds
Beef Jerky
Deviled Ham (Not SPAM. I want to be very clear about that.)

(Looking at this list it all seems a little Depression Era, doesn't it? When the shit comes down, I will be living large.)

Very few people would admit to enjoying such adulterated meat products, but I can't help myself. And it's not as if, in consuming them, I am transported by complexity of flavor. They are meat-ish and salty. Cure it, fry it, smash it, dry it. -j-j- will eat it.

Among these foods is the Gyro (pronounced Yee-ro. Not Jie-ro or Gee-ro. I believe either pronunciation is acceptable these days, but I still bristle. It's like calling Goethe, Go-thee, an ugly Chicago-ism I have yet to forgive.). Surely, you've seen it. It's that spit of hulking brown rotating by the grill at most hot dog stands. It makes its weary revolution hour in and hour out, drying on the the stake. God knows what they do with it at the end of the day.

When one orders Gyros, they slice strips off the mass (which might be lamb or something), grill it up and serve it on a pita with onion, tomatoes and tzatziki (yogurt and cucumbers). It is messy, it destroys your insides, repels your friends, and is a culinary abomination.

I love it.

I will only allow myself to order Gyros on rare occasions. And lucky me, I had just such an occasion a few days ago at Barba Yianni Grecian Taverna in Lincoln Square.

After rehearsal, I met Notnits up on Lincoln and Western. German Fest was ravaging the area and the corner was thick with sizzled sausages and sozzled suburbanites.

I'm not very smart about eating, especially when I'm working on a project. Sometimes I forget to do it, and then wonder why I have "out of body" feelings and crank out at the slightest perceived provocation. This was one of those times. There were too many people around, and it was hot. My usual happy greeting was replaced by a peck on the cheek and a gruff, "I need to eat. Now."

Barba Yianni is a restaurant that I have often wondered about, but have never ventured into. I like Greek food, I think, but only in the most casual, American way. Greek salads, Gyros, etc. So, when I saw it was half empty, I pointed the way and cave-manned, "Eat here."

It's a nice place. Very comfortable and easy going. If I recall correctly, they have some paintings of exposed brick and grapes on the walls, a decorative choice common for mid-range Italian and Mediterranean restaurants. I suppose it's meant to carry us away to Crete, however the effect falls a little short. One feels more carried away to the best Italian Eatery in Glen Ellyn.

I ordered a Malbec and took the hungry opportunity to order the Gyros plate. Ordering gyros at a sit down restaurant feels out of place to me. It's a fast food item. But maybe with a glass of wine and some ambiance, it will be fancy.

Fancy it not what I would call it. Plentiful, yes. But fancy, no. The waitress arrived and plopped a plate of steaming brown strips in front of me (complete with all the trimmings) as well as a plate of potatoes and peas covered in red sauce. I spread the tzatziki over the meat and pita and what not and took a bite.

The gyros were about what I expected: Dry, salty, lamby (maybe). Nothing out of the ordinary. To be fair (and this may echo the sentiment in my Falafill review) can one REALLY distinguish between a bad gyro and a good one? I wonder what that tastes like - a truly gourmet gyro.

In this instance, I cannot complain. It was what I wanted. I could only eat about half of it, but it was still decent enough to wrap up and take home. The peas and potatoes were not quite so good. Fairly bland red sauce, and the potatoes were a little on the mushy side.

Overall, I liked Barba Yianni fine. It's a comfortable place and food is serviceable. I got what I came for. I'm not sure that I would go again but if I do, I'll try whatever the house specialty might be, rather than the most basic fast food item.

And probably best not to go when my body is entering phase 2 starvation mode.


Erica said...

Lets go together sometime. I love that place. The teramosalada is to die for.

Jan Smelk said...

there is a Jiros (I refuse!)place in the Target Center down the street from my house and that shit is off the chain, yo. Once every couple of months I slam my face into some of that!

gyxec: a policeman of sorts who wanders around correcting people's Greek pronunciation.

Dianna said...

i love deviled ham sandwiches so much, I can't even tell you.

and pork rinds are one of the bext snack foods ever....

NotNits said...

God knows what they do with it at the end of the day.

Set it in a tub of warm water. It regenerates by the following morning.

-j-j- said...


joe g said...

I love gyros. Just sayin'.

aftednes: failed Greek poet, 3rd century BCE. Predominantly wrote Agamemnon/Odysseus slash fic.

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