On my first day of work almost nine years ago, my new co-workers took me to lunch at Santorini Greek Kitchen in Fountain Square. It was love at first bite. Today, we took a new co-worker for her inaugural lunch at Santorini and I’m happy to say my heart still beats for the home-cooked food just like Yia Yia makes (or would make if my grandmother were indeed Greek).
Stepping inside Santorini’s, my eye is immediately drawn to the contrast between the white-white walls and the ceiling darkened by hundreds of orders of saganaki — flaming cheese whose trails of smoke lick the ceiling tiles, turning them a tell-tale gray. My sense of sight is quickly overwhelmed by my sense of taste. My mouth waters in anticipation of feta cheese and phyllo dough and those delicious, I-gotta-learn-how-to-make-these Greek potatoes.
I rotate my usual order among three dishes: the spanikopita/tiropita (cheese pies) platter ($10.50); the Village salad, which is devoid of lettuce and instead offers up chunks of tomato, cucumber, feta cheese and olives served with toasted bread rounds($11); or the Goddess chicken. You won’t find “Goddess chicken” on the menu. Instead it is hiding under the non-descript and boring name “grilled chicken breast.” When the dish arrives at the table, you understand why I’ve re-named it. Strips of seasoned, grilled chicken breast tucked in among zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and roasted garlic. This meal is made for a Goddess and Jeffrey, my favorite server, indulges my order for Goddess chicken every time I place it, although I’m sure he scratches “GCB” on his order pad.
The Goddess chicken is sold under “sandwiches,” which it really isn’t, for $10. But for just another George Washington, you can get the platter and have it (or any of the sandwich items on the menu, including the gyro) served with rice pilaf, Mediterranean green beans and those signature Greek (“magic” as Jeffrey calls them) potatoes. Best dollar you’ll ever spend.
Other notable menu items include the Greek staple gyro ($10) and the ever-popular special fish kabobs. Served off-skewer, the kabobs are served with a variety of fish. Today’s offering was salmon, grouper, mahi mahi and shrimp.
On the off-chance that you’ve left room for dessert, which has happened to me exactly three times in the nine years I’ve been eating at Santorini’s, I whole-heartedly endorse the galaktibouriko, a warm custard sprinkled with cinnamon. While I’ve never had it, I wouldn’t hesitate to order the baklava because I’ve never had anything disappointing come out of Jeanette and Taki Sawi’s (the owners) kitchen.
If you go to Santorini’s for dinner, there is discounted family-style dining on Monday nights. Diners on Friday and Saturday nights are treated to traditional Greek music and belly dancers. Santorini Greek Kitchen is located in Fountain Square at 1417 E. Prospect Street and is closed on Sunday.