A fairly new restaurant opened just down the street from the Pho place I go to. It’s called Gyros House and the sandwich board on the corner has both English and Arabic advertisements. I immediately thought this to be a good sign, so I stopped in before work one day to try it out.
It’s a fairly rudimentary interior with just a few chairs and tables. The decoration consists of an ungodly amount of pictures on the wall, some of them famous paintings, others advertisements for Gyros (“Eat Kronos”, which seems beautifully ironic to the classicist in me). The family who owns the place and works there is very friendly, and perfectly happy to accommodate both someone who knows nothing about Middle Eastern food and someone who is an expert on it at. It reminds me of the little doner shops around Istanbul, except in Everett.
In terms of food, they do a fairly good job. The Lamb Shawarma has a wonderful ratio of meat to veggies, and their tzatziki sauce is nice and light, with a hint of coriander. Same is true of the gyro. Both meats are cooked perfectly, the gyro slices thick and meaty, and the shawarma slices are juicy and a little bit smoky, holding all the lamby integrity within. Of course, they serve salads as well. They’re deceptively simple, but quite delicious with a light sprinkling of fresh feta and a few olives. Of course, I had to try the baba ghanouj, which was wonderfully done. It was so smooth and just slightly bitter, with a drizzle of oil over the top. They also arranged two olives and an onion slice on top of the baba ghanouj to make a smiley face; being a cynical bastard, I’m usually pretty blase about this, but it managed to make me laugh and appreciate the baba ghanouj a bit more. I always like eating where people have fun with their food. The baklava, an essential part of any Middle Eastern eating experience, comes in two varieties: regular and pistachio. The pistachio baklava, while interesting, is packed with such a rich, crunchy pistachio filling that it detracts from the delicate layers of phylo above it. Very tasty and somewhat nostalgic, this baklava is soaked with a light honey sauce that will get all over your fingers as you eat it (the way it should be). The normal baklava is also wonderful, and the textural contrast works better, although the flavors are more delicate and subdued. Either way, Gyros House makes some killer baklava.
The really amazing thing is that you won’t end up paying more than about $6 for anything on their menu. An big lunch can be $10 and incredibly satisfying. For Middle Eastern food on the north end, Gyros House does an exceptional job with both their food and their prices. It’s a friendly environment that cares about their food and does it well, and that really shines through.
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Octopus was one of the foods on the list that I was dreading. The idea of eating the suckers on the tentacles freaked me out no end, and I figured that it would be really chewy like squid can be and over-chewiness is probably the one thing that puts me off food more than anything. I was really pleasantly surprised though. The texture was not too chewy at all, and it had a lovely delicate flavour. Luckily it was chopped into small pieces so I wasn’t confronted too full-on with a giant suckery tentacle, but it actually was much less creepy to eat than I expected. I even tried a really curly bit from the very end of the tentacle. There were two choices on the menu and we chose the marinated octopus, which was served cold with an olive oil, chilli and herb marinade.
The other appetiser that we chose to share was saganaki which is fried cheese. I had assumed it would be similar to halloumi but it is much more ‘fried’ than that. The cheese actually melts a little so that it has a really crispy outside and then a soft, stringy centre - kind of like a perfect grilled cheese sandwich but without the bread!