Haas, MD, instructs us in Staying Healthy with Nutrition (Celestial Arts/Ten Speed, $39.95), "the Middle Eastern nations consume a variant of the Indian diet," and Greece is on the fringes of the Middle East.
Novices, neophytes, and the inattentive might be forgiven, in fact, if they mistook the Greek condiment tzatziki a sauce of yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, and onion for the Indian condiment raita, a sauce of yogurt and cucumber. Tzatziki is the salsa of Greek cooking and has a way of turning up everywhere, but we found it only as an accompaniment to garides souvlaki ($15.95), two brochettes of grilled shrimp plated with roasted potatoes and salad.
I was not impressed with the falafel ($5.95 at lunch), despite the massiveness of the plate: five Titleist-size balls arrayed on a carpet of pita and topped with a blob of hummus that looked like lumpy gravy. The falafel balls were unwarm and undersalted; worse, they recurred on the vegetarian platter, which offered (in addition to the falafel and in place of the cottage potatoes) a dolma a torpedo of seasoned rice swaddled in grape leaves and a round of spanikopita, the phyllo pie stuffed with spinach and cheese. These teaser items were tasty enough to distinguish themselves from the falafel but not substantial enough to make up for it.
The wine list is brief but does include a variety of Greek bottlings both red and white, and these tend to be quite good value. Although the Greeks have been making wine since time out of mind, the country's modern wine industry had fallen into disrepair until recently and was known mostly for retsina, whose turpentine quality can be overwhelming. There is also a selection of Greek beers, including a lovely golden lager from Hillas. After a few of these, even Homer might nod. *
Mon.Thurs., noon10 p.m.; Fri., noon11 p.m.; Sat. 111 p.m.; Sun., 110 p.m.
1431 Polk, SF
Beer and wine
Can get loud