Down the Garden Path

Christoforides readily admits that when she and her husband opened Gardens of Salonica nearly eight years ago they chose to create a populist restaurant, not a gourmet one: "If we charged $15 a plate, we could do all organic, all local, but we charge $9 a plate--which makes us one of the best meal deals in the Cities." True enough: A leisurely, gimme-all-you-got, belt-busting three-hour meal--boughatsa, a dip or three with bread, soup or salad, an entrée, dessert, wine, and coffee--might only run $25 a person.

As a critic, I feel torn between my expectations and real life. On one hand I've had to accept that certain cuisines--Greek, Spanish, and Mexican spring to mind--aren't represented locally with any visionary magnificence, and on the other hand a goodhearted place like Gardens of Salonica doles out soup pots of hospitality, platters of goodwill, and heaping banquets of gracious generosity. Especially when I consider the many, many rotten restaurants I've been to lately--the ones where the guest is nothing but a cog in someone's money-making scheme, where one fights to get a table, does battle with stubborn staffers and in return gets only cost-cutting lowest-common-denominator food--Gardens of Salonica inspires me. It makes me want to take a megaphone and march up and down the avenues hooting: This is not rocket science, people! Be gracious, give the people some food, and they will adore you! It's not that hard.

 

Diana Watters

Location Info

Map

Gardens of Salonica New Greek Cafe & Deli

19 5th St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Northeast Minneapolis

TABLEHOPPING

CATCH THE NOODLE: And you thought yo-yos were impressive. Flying through the air, zing zing, loop-de-loop, walk the dog. Whatever. Let's see what you think after watching noodle master Tseing Wang swing and toss dough into 1,000-strand Chinese dragon's beard noodles (long xu main). Chef Wang, owner of San Francisco's San Wang and a native of Shandong in northern China, is in town for Big Bowl's Noodle Festival this Monday and Tuesday May 3 and 4, and he will be noodle-throwing at the Galleria'sBig Bowl restaurant on those days at 12:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. My advice? Gather a party of six or more as soon as possible and make reservations at the ultrapopular spot; call (612) 928-7888. And hey, if you're too cool to be wowed by thousand-strand noodles, you can always throw down in the kids' "Doodle the Noodle" contest.

ESCARGOTS OPTIONAL:This Tuesday, May 4, also sees the monthly meeting of an informal wine club at Caffé Solo. These tastings--which cost $25, start at 6:30, and feature a tapas or antipasti menu to go along with the wines--are the brainchild of Solo owner Dave King, who loves wine, but hates the pretense and expense that accompany many oenophilic gatherings. "The idea," says King, "is to have a wine club for people who want to know more about wine but don't want to spend $75 to $100 to have some Frenchman lecture them while slugging snails out of the escargot shells." Themes for the Solo dinners vary: Sometimes it's as simple as exploring the wines of a varietal or a geographic region, other times it's a playful premise like comparing wines grown at similar elevations. King's coup de grâce: "I keep the last wine of the evening in a bag, and everybody tastes it, and everybody has to take a guess as to what that wine is--sometimes it's related to the previous wines I've been talking about, sometimes it's not." To get on the informal e-mail list that alerts interested parties to upcoming gatherings, send a note to Caffé Solo (123 N. Third St., Minneapolis, MN 55401; solo@bitstream.net). If you want to go to the one this Tuesday just call the restaurant, (612) 332-7108, so they know how many to cook for. Or don't: "We appreciate an RSVP, but it's not critical," says King, no doubt causing a lecturing Frenchman somewhere to fling away his escargot in disgust.

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