Where Are All The Contemporary Greek Restaurants?
Many Greeks in the Midwest seem to not consider contemporary Greek food as "real" Greek food. Greeks in other parts of the country are doing wonderful things with Greek food both modern and traditional the Midwest seems to stand still.
In fact all other cuisines are doing amazing things in the Midwest and some even have some modern takes on Greek dishes as well. If people are loving their version of a Greek dish why won't the Greeks do it?
It's not just the Greek version of dishes a "xeno" makes but also the use of Greek ingredients I want to address.
Of course this doesn't mean we, as Greeks, need to get rid of authentic Greek restaurants. We just seem to have enough of them and none of the contemporary ones. If a Greek doesn't own a Greek restaurant most likely they own a diner. Without looking up the proper statistics I'm sure you would agree Greeks own a lot of diner style restaurants.
The days of the old school diner though are gone, but for some, the mindset of the diner lives on in any new venture he or she takes.
For that reason I want to start off this series with a modern diner and show you the potential modern creative Greek cuisine has. So follow me and let me show you what dishes could have been "ours" and not the "xeni's".
This specific diner has taken something I only saw in Greek restaurants when I was younger, up until maybe 5-10 years ago. If it did exist around here it wasn't as well known.
The Little Goat Diner located on 820 W. Randolph St. in Chicago, which is only a stones throw away from Greek Town, has run away with a popular Greek item. Maybe it's a bit more popular in Greece but nevertheless it could have and should have been popular here from a long time ago. That "something" is goat.
But before we get into the goat part let's talk about one other item I was hoping I would find in a contemporary Greek restaurant. Lamb ribs!
Although this version isn't reflective of contemporary Greek it still shows in its simplest way that contemporary Greek food is very very doable.
It's an example for the Greeks and Greek owned restaurants that people are looking for something new, different and fun. It shows that people are looking for creativity and the restaurant industry today is booming with amazing modern creations.
Like I said, there are enough authentic Greek restaurants for those who are craving something authentic. I myself love the traditional dishes but I'm not always in the mood for them.
Lamb Ribs served with spring veggies, warm potato and a strawberry tapenade.
Back to the goat. This is something you and I would usually see served in Greek restaurants. Of course it was served in a traditional style and boy was it delicious.
I would crave it as I got older and I got my fix of goat only at a holiday party or when I would spot it as a special at a Greek restaurant.
Today I see it a bit more often but at The Little Goat Diner its the headliner. Hence the name.
The menu is fun yet simple. The menu items with goat aren't many but they're amazing in flavor. For me the flavor takes me back to summers in Greece and the occasional Easter celebration mixed with my life here in Chicago. I think you'll have a similar experience here.
Here's a look at some menu items you're mouth will thank you for trying. Sloppy Goat, which is a goat meat version of Sloppy Joe. Goat chili, Taco Salad with goat chili, veggie quesadilla with goat cheese and any burger on the menu that you can have with beef, veggie or a goat patty. Please go for the goat patty.
And there you have it. A simple and fun way to highlight goat in your menu and a phenomenal way to show off some Greek staples in a modern way.
I hope you can see that there is a demand for creative dishes and that Greek food can be put on the map with innovative minds.
There is a Greek chef or two out there who can do some fun and great things with Greek ingredients and I'm so hoping I can get the chance to try it sooner than later.
Until the next article, enjoy a 3D version of my Lamb Rib entree.