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The Fat Greek makes nice use of lemons but still could spice things up

There are a lot of things The Fat Greek does right.

Soups, for example. Dinner entrees include a choice of soup or salad, with three choices for the former. The tomato-based lentil was well-seasoned and just hearty enough, the classic avgolemono even better, its rice creamy, its chicken tender and plentiful and — best of all, because this is a quality curiously absent from a lot of versions of this soup — its lemon flavor pronounced without being overwhelming.

The bread served with dinner was quite nice, too: pillowy triangles of warm grilled pita, and a crisp-crusted round loaf served with butter.

A lamb shish kebob ($14.95) was skillfully executed, the meat marinated so that it was both flavorful and juicy but still retained the characteristic lamb flavor, the accompanying rice pilaf nice and fluffy.

A starter of saganaki ($8.50), the traditional Greek fried cheese, was just right, crisp on the outside and gently soft in the center.

But there were other areas where we felt The Fat Greek fell short.

Before I get to them, let me say that everything we tasted there avoided the trap of being over-salted. That may seem like an odd positive negative, but an awful lot of chefs are still getting carried away with the salt shaker (maybe because, as one told me, so many of them smoke). But a couple of dishes were woefully lacking in seasoning.

The pasticcio ($12.95) was one. This layered dish, sometimes referred to as “Greek lasagna,” was a visual treat, the long tubular pasta (which I’ve seen referred to as uncut ziti) carefully layered with a tomato-meat sauce, topped by a rich bechamel-kefalotiri cheese layer. The pasta was perfect, the meat plentiful, the bechamel subtly flavored and rich and velvety. The problem was that the tomato sauce was overly acidic and devoid of much in the way of seasoning. Greek tomato sauces usually are flavored with a lot of oregano and a little cinnamon, but we couldn’t detect either here — or anything but the acidic tomatoes.

Dolmades ($7.50) was another. These are stuffed grape leaves, rolled like little cigars to enclose any of a number of fillings, in this case meat and rice. Sometimes they’re served warm; in this case they were chilled, and they were served atop a lemon sauce that, like the soup, carried a pleasingly assertive citrus note. The rolls themselves, though, were bland, the only flavor accent besides the sauce coming from vinegar. They weren’t bad, just sadly lackluster, like the pasticcio.

Service throughout was good, the restaurant’s two waiters working together for the benefit of customers. The restaurant is simply but pleasantly decorated, with lots of traditional blue accents and crisp linens. An outdoor patio overlooks a shopping-center parking lot, but if the weather’s fine, sometimes that’s enough for an al-fresco evening.

Greek restaurants, like Italian and Mexican and pretty much every other cuisine out there, often are dependent on tradition; if the owner’s grandmother made her sauce one way, that’s usually reflected in those of her offspring. So we’re guessing that the grandmother of The Fat Greek loved her lemons, and we thank her for that. But we wish the current chef would break with tradition and kick up the seasonings a bit.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or email her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.

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