9.01.2009

Restaurant Review #221: Greek House Cafe, Simi Valley


Chicken kebab plate

Simi Valley's Greek House Cafe, located in a small strip mall on the busy corner of Sycamore and Cochran, has a nice sign out front, but that's pretty much the restaurant's only decor. This little hole in the wall is kind of dingy--not the kind of place where you want to linger and eat your food--but you shouldn't pass it up. It's affordable, many dishes will tickle your tastebuds, and you can avoid the dreary atmosphere by ordering takeout.


Greek salad

The Greek salad is one of the menu's few disappointments. The iceberg lettuce and flavorless tomatoes kill it, and the dressing is unnoticeable. Sadly, it seems like the only restaurants where you can get good lettuce and tomatoes are those that make it a point to get their produce from farmers markets (and those restaurants are in the minority, even here in SoCal where there's no excuse for subpar produce).


Avgolemono

Skip the salad and order the avgolemono ($1.75 cup, $3.25 bowl) instead. This traditional Greek chicken soup with orzo, egg, and lemon may sound unusual and even off-putting, but it's even easier to eat and even more comforting than what most Americans think of as traditional chicken noodle soup. It's thick, creamy, and the "noodles" are like plump grains of rice, so there's no slurping and no mess. I guess the egg is just used as a thickener, because there is no flavor or consistency of egg in the soup. The lemon isn't overwhelming, but adds an interesting and surprisingly addictive tang to every bite.


Moussaka plate

Moussaka, a uniquely spiced eggplant/ground beef/bechamel casserole, is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods when it's done right. I think the moussaka at the Great Greek in Studio City is more moist and flavorful. Greek House Cafe's version is perhaps not as creamy or as luxuriously spiced, and I don't think I'd order it again. (Moussaka plate: $10.50 lunch, $11.50 dinner)


The pita bread, however, is perfectly soft and fresh. It's imported, and has a consistency unlike that dried-out "pita" they sell at the grocery store. For extra flavor and texture, it's brushed with either olive oil or butter (I can't tell) then grilled. I dare say it's not very good for you, but it's so delicious you won't care.

I haven't tried everything on the menu (yet), but I think the best dishes at Greek House Cafe are the appetizers--hummus, tzatziki, melitzanosalata, tabouli, feta, and kalamata olives. The feta and hummus are some of the most flavorful I've ever had. You can try all six of these appetizers at once by ordering the cold appetizer plate for 2 ($11.95). The gyros ($7.95 lunch, $8.95 dinner) are also outstanding, if impossible to actually pick up and eat as a sandwich because they are so huge.


Baklava

The only dessert at Greek House Cafe is homemade baklava ($2.25). The portion size is enormous--a single serving is enough for two to four people. This is not my favorite baklava--it could be crispier and have more depth of flavor--but it will do.

The prices are very reasonable--two people could have a feast for $30--but be warned that it's cash-only establishment. If you show up with only plastic in your wallet, though, there is an ATM in the convenience store next door.

Greek House Cafe would be good anywhere, but it's especially welcome out in the suburbs, where there are more chains and fewer independent and/or ethnic eateries.

Greek House Cafe

2375 Sycamore Dr Ste 5
Simi Valley, CA 93065
(805) 955-9899
http://www.greekhousecafe.com/

3 comments:

THE ACTORS DIET said...

i agree - no place in socal has an excuse for a lame salad

Taco Mike said...

Just wanted to say keep up the good work. I enjoy food blogs and being a Simi Valley resident, I appreciate the reviews you give of places around me. Especially the "smaller" places.
Thanks!

H. C. said...

that avgolemono soup and giant looking baklava got me craving some Greek right now, and thanks for pointing to Great Greek for tastier moussaka (one of my fave comfort, calories-be-damned foods too)