I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
I know someone who works at Pappa Yianni’s.
No worries, just act professional. My signature netbook was feeling considerably larger suddenly.
Gone is the puzzlingly spelled Cariboo, now replaced with Pappa Yianni’s—billed as a Mediterranean grill.
So what classifies a Mediterranean restaurant? It’s a big region, encompassing twenty-one countries and just as many cuisines. I mean, would you advertise your restaurant as just being Asian?
Okay, admittedly, some do, but I personally don’t offer those much respect. It’s fine if they have the word “Asia/n” in their title, but I like restaurants to lock down their cuisine, at least when they try to claim one. I’ve been to Mediterranean restaurants focusing more on Italian or Spanish. Few ever focus on Moroccan or Lebanese—those restaurants take pride in their ethnicity. But just calling a restaurant Mediterranean almost sounds unfocused. Are they embarrassed of their cuisine? Perhaps it sounds more exotic than simply calling it Greek, which Pappa Yianni’s most assuredly is, proven by music overhead obviously acquired from the same shop as every other Greek restaurant I’ve ever been to.
The menu had thirteen items. Thirteen. Not even broken up into appetizers or desserts—just a single page of entrees (note: this has changed since last I visited). A separate page detached from the menu detailed the specials for the week, each with lofty prices though certainly with portions of such titanic size, they’d have to be carried to my plate by the Colossus of Rhodes. They’re all dinner entrees, meaning the owners expect/assume everyone walking in at lunch will take in the buffet for $12.95. The spread across the tables was unimpressive to say the least, with a layout more reminiscent of Bonanzas (yes, remembering we used to have one). Half the buffet was occupied by the standards of the salad bar—metal bowls filled with mounds of what is only allegorically referred to as “salad”, fringed by fake greens and stainless steel, rationing a side table for a spattering of ethnically vague dishes. Seriously, someone needs to tell these people that being a carvery is not the secret to a restaurant’s success. Basically, this is the same tactic used by the previous restaurant that occupied this space. I gave it some middling praise but thought it was dated then and it still is today. Carved meat at a salad bar is not only dull, it’s borderline passé—only an allure on Sundays for the elderly or for families that want a break from their daily dose of microwavable ready-made meals. Someone may argue that this spread was better than the Cariboo’s, but I don’t remember the Cariboo’s being this lacklustre.
Being in a Greek restaurant despite its apparent denial, I ordered the hummus with pita bread. And being a Greek restaurant, I was served enough food to supply a Somali family for a week. The hummus was not bad though a little runny. The bread was lightly toasted but obviously purchased from Shoppers Wholesale. I know that because I buy from Shopper’s and can recognize the product.
To follow, I ordered the souvlaki, which…honestly, wasn’t bad. It was plated with effort, not tossed lazily onto my plate. The Greek salad wasn’t the greatest; the feta was shredded rather than cubed. The olives still had their pits. But the rice and potato was cooked adequately. The chicken—a tad overcooked. Once again, like every Greek meal I’ve had, there was altogether far too much food. I love the fact I was informed the specials were dinner entrees, and that I had ordered from the general menu which featured smaller dishes. If this was small, a dinner plate would have carried enough mass to pull down orbiting satellites.
Like previous reviews, one of the biggest dilemmas facing Pappa Yianni’s is competition. It sits next to the far superior Twisted Cork. The difference being the Cork is an established restaurant priding on quality food taken to plate patiently and properly, where Pappa Yianni appears to cater to those with only thirty minutes to spare at lunch (assuming you order the buffet; my entree took considerable time to arrive). They found a niche and settled into a role. Since I don’t care for buffets, and since my interest in Greek cuisine is apparently fading faster than my ability to control my own weight, there’s not much reason for me to return to Pappa Yianni’s. If you followed this review to this end, I can admit you may not care about these issues when needing a quick meal at lunch. It certainly didn’t matter to the dozen construction workers that flooded the restaurant at lunch. If you are in that category, knock yourself out. I’ll be next door.