22 June, 2011

Greek on Wheels

Everyone that knows me knows that I don't normally blog chains.  Quite frankly, my abhorrence to then is getting worse as time goes by.  I had a horrible experience with lunch "on the fly" at another Greek place in a mall...Jimmy the Greek.  When I mentioned the name to my sister in Alberta she said "Yeah, I've never bothered eating there."  I found out why...TMI...but...MAJOR gastro problems for DAYS afterward.  I didn't know it was SUCH a far reaching chain...Ontario into Alberta, but it just confirms my point.  A name is really a name and quality is a subject to be proven.  Food sitting in cool containers or hot warmers all day waiting for some poor unsuspecting hungry schmuck to happen by and try a gyro is a bad way to live up to their promise of "we always use fresh, high quality ingredients".  *cough*  

I digress...as luck would have it Greek on Wheels was FAR and away a different experience.  Though they DO happen to be a chain, they haven't grown too big for their own britches.  They are a local Ottawa chain with 6 locations and everywhere I turned, people were telling me to give them a whirl; the location on Hamilton Avenue in particular.  I figured out why when I got there.


 I walked in and realized this was not a typical operation.  There was a woman busily taking order after order after order on the phone, a runner to my immediate left near the stands of utensils, delivery bags and napkins and next to the woman taking orders, the guy I assumed to be the owner/head cook/manager of the whole shebang.  It was pretty tight quarters in there.  Nowhere to sit...this was a true takeout empire.  In fact, if you pick up your food yourself there is a 10% discount.  A gal could get used to that!  I introduced myself as a flogger recently come to town, as I am always wont to do and asked him what dish would truly give me the best impression of Greek on Wheels.  I scanned the menu carefully as he was talking, but he asked me a question right away.  "Well, what do you like?"  Ah ha!  This is only the SECOND time someone has asked me what types of food I enjoy.  I didn't give an answer right away, so he probed further.  "Do you like pita?  Do you like meat or veggies?"  He's been around this block before.  I told him I love lamb and I love pita.  He suggested the 23.  Shawarma wrap.  Before I go further, because I know you're confused already...I will tell you...yes...Shawarma isn't a Greek menu item.  Shawarma is Lebanese.  Moving on....

I went with the 23 made with lamb and added an order of 33.  Spanakopita.  I was really exited to eat my food.  We meandered our way to a nearby park so the Sprout could play while my Mister and I noshed.  

Spanakopita

I was very pleased to discover that our food was still piping HOT once we settled down to eat in the park.  I went for the Spanakopita first of course.  Pure bliss!  The soft layers of phyllo melted in my mouth to reveal a creamy, rich center of spinach, feta and what tasted like scallion.  No wonder the translation is "spinach pie".  I'd order that ANY day of the week and twice on Saturday...so I had some Sunday without having to break the Sabbath.  The sauce that accompanied really rounded it out, giving it a full bodied flavor.  It was something I could easily envision as a meal itself if I hadn't been sharing the wares with my Mister.

 Lamb Shawarma

Now...the Shawarma was a different story.  After a single bite into the wrap I knew I was going to be disappointed.  Shawarma wraps are quite a bit drier and thinner than a traditional Greek pita, you can easily spot that in the picture above.  Second problem...pickled turnip.  I saw that on the menu when I ordered it and told myself not to prejudge a dish.  I've learned more than once, this just isn't fair.  But...when you know that you don't like regular fresh turnips...what are the odds you'll like them pickled??  True enough.  The crunch; then the SOUR bitter was more than I could handle.  It was in EVERY bite.  In contrast, the lamb was out of this WORLD spectacular, soft and seasoned to perfection.  I went with the garlic sauce rather than the tahini sauce, which was a good match for my taste buds as well.  But, on the whole, I am not a fan of tomato or onion in my Greek anything except a pizza or salad.  The textures usually don't end up matching.  Firm meat, soft pita, mushy tomato, firm onion...just doesn't whet my palate.  But I give everyone a chance to prove that pattern wrong and order from their menu AS listed.  Then after the trial and most times failure, I normally end up going with lamb, no tomato, no onion.  (They always get visibly exasperated when I order like that, but...I want to like what I am eating, so I go for what I know I'll like.)  But, I won't be ordering Shawarma again.

As per usual...my Mister didn't ask for a recommendation...he loved his food.  There may be something to that method...hmm....  I tried his, it was spectacular.  

I WILL be going back to Greek on Wheels despite my "Shawarma incident".  There is a location right near the house we'll be moving into in Kanata Lakes.  The next time I go I am sticking with GREEK and going for what I KNOW I'll love...a nice, warm, soft, THICK Greek pita with lamb, no tomato, no onion.  Perhaps the number 4 with more of their FABULOUS Spanakopita on the side.  If you're new to the area give them a try.  Prices here in Ottawa can really give you wallet burn, but Greek on Wheels is reasonably priced for great quality and taste in return.  Heck, even if you've lived in Ottawa you're whole life...been there before...reconnect with this place.  It is worth the trip...many of your fellow Ottawans agree.  You can't be voted "best take-out" 12 years in a row without a healthy fan base.  They have a new fan in me... 

Greek on Wheels on Urbanspoon

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