Thursday, September 30, 2010

Olympia Restaurant, Vineland

Did I forget how much I like Greek food, or did I never know? I bet the last time I went to a Greek restaurant in America was in Greektown in Chicago, circa 1999. I do know that there was one time in college where I was back in Pitman and drove down to the Olympia for dinner with Julie Heffron (it's taken me some time to piece this together due to the name change and relocation to Virginia plus the fact that I had almost completely forgotten), but I'm unsure what that was about. The Olympia is an institution - people write about how their parents took them there 30+ years ago. My lifelong friend Carson is on a lifestyle remodeling plan (read: weight loss) and has been eating a lot of Greek food since it's relatively healthy by comparison to some other things. The Olympia is near where he works, and has become one of his favorites. Why do all these people love it? It it the real, authentic Greek food. Is it authentic? Is it South Jersey Greek food, the way South Jersey has its own species of Italian food since the immigrants were mostly Southern and anyway their food changed when they got here? I digress. The exterior is certainly not something anyone loves very much, although I've read that they remodeled recently, inside and out, with plenty of light-blue paint to make you think you're near the Aegean instead of Delsea Drive in Vineland (one more digression - Vineland does indeed get its name from the fact that lots of grapes used to be grown in the area. Now, not so much. But Welch's grape juice was invented here in 1869. Tell your kids.).

We were eating for four (me and him, plus Sherrilynn, who is eating for two), so we got a big assortment. This one container has a solid selection of all the dips you might want to try. For me, the standouts were the taramosolata (I think I liked this even before I lived in Japan and started thinking eating spicy fish eggs was a great thing) and melitzanosalata, which you might know better as baba ganoush. There was also tzatsiki, skordalia, hummus (whatever that's called in Greek) and a few others, plus feta and olives. Damn. It's funny how we kept eating on this thing, for lunch AND dinner, and it didn't go away. Dinner was just as good, actually, because all of the items may have needed a few more hours to mellow depending on when they were made.

Being on le regime, we got some salads as well. Growing up, we all used to get gyros at Jim and Mike's in Pitman, and while those may well have been pressed meat byproduct instead of laboriously- and authentically-assembled stacks of lamb and beef, they still tasted pretty damn good. It's been so long since I've had a gyro or kebab (though I did hold one for a minute several years ago in Maebashi when the thoroughly wasted insurance salesman I had been drinking with bought one for me. I really couldn't face it, and gave it back to him to eat. I was a little worried that he was going to unleash his college wrestling training on me, but he just started eating.) that I don't know what good is any more, but I liked these.

Chicken souvlaki salad was nondescript by comparison. The salad is the same, only the meat has changed.

The moussaka was not nondescript at all. I could have eaten the whole damn thing, such was the intriguing piquancy of the spices they put into the meat and eggplant, and the luscious creaminess of the baked sauce on top. I hyperbolize, but you know where I'm coming from.

This was outstanding. I wish I could eat it, and in fact at the Olympia, all the time. As it is, there's not a lot of Greek in Tokyo. I have a feeling I'm going to be trying Spyro's in Roppongi soon, if I don't get all the way out to Shibuya for The Aegean (which looks a little better, if you needed to know).

It seems opinions vary on this one if you check this ratings site, but I know what mine is.

(856) 691-6095

Back at home there was plenty of fun with Yuri the Wonder Dog. He reacts to howling noises. I wouldn't say he's sensitive or annoyed by them, but if you sort of howl at him, he'll join in for a while. He's not upset or anything, just sorta being friendly. In fact, he's so friendly about it that if you play him a recording of himself howling, it will set him off every time. Ahhhh, the fun we have in Pitman, even when we're not eating out.

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