I was once engaged to a Greek American man who introduced me to the art of Greek eating. There were a few rules you always had to follow, including eating all meals at long, communal tables with at least 20 other people; making sure that at least 15 of those people were your relatives (but if even if they weren't, you could still call them aunts, uncles and cousins in the Cincinnati Greek community); and always eating a little bit (or a lot) of everything.
When I walked into Mythos Grecian Grill (100 E. Fourth St., 513-381-3042), I took those rules with me. First, I brought my family — my mother and my sister who was visiting from Boston. While the table only sat four — no 20-person tables here —and we were surrounded by P&Gers in business casual, a far cry from the Greek community, the menu was reminiscent of those communal meals in the basement of Middletown's Greek Orthodox churches or Panegryi on a hot summer night.
Following the rule of trying everything, we ordered a Veggie Combo ($8.99), Vegetarian Mousaka ($8.45), Supreme Chicken Pita ($5.40) and Horiatiki ($5.99) spread so large our table could barely handle it. While ordering took "work" — you have to order at the counter in this cafeteria-style restaurant — the food came out a mere 10 minutes later.
We dove into the Veggie Combo first — the perfect Greek starter plate of spanakopita, tiropita, veggie dolmathes, gummus, zucchini croquettes, tzatziki sauce and the most buttery pita bread we've ever had. The Spanakopita was a warm dive into brisk spinach and hot chunks of feta. So many times the fillo crust of spanakopita and tiropita ends up flattened with all the ingredients blending into one soggy mess. Not so here.
Both were perfectly fluffy and crispy — a feat of engineering.
Meanwhile, the dolmathes, zucchini croquettes and tzatziki were a bit disappointing. With scant filling, the dolmathes offered only the vinegary taste of grape leaves, the deep-fried zucchini tasted a bit soggy and stale and the tzatziki tasted less like garlic and cucumber and more like ranch dressing.
The vegetarian mousaka, however, was a satisfying blend of fresh potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese topped with a thick but delicate béchamel sauce. Very hearty. And the Supreme Chicken Pita was a masterpiece with marinated chicken seasoned with oregano, onion and garlic. Topped with tzatziki sauce and imported feta cheese, only the Greeks could make an ordinary chicken sandwich so savory.
We topped all of this off with a piece of Baklava that was easily the best I've had (except for that cooked by my ex-fiancé's mother, of course). Again, the six layers of phyllo maintained their fullness and crispiness, and the dessert was not too sweet but rich with the essential flavors of nuts, cinnamon, vanilla and honey. What a treat.
Mythos is definitely on the list of lunch favorites.
Contact Heather Smith: [email protected]