Jerry and I love Greek cuisine. In the past, we had been limited to our once a year splurge at the Greek Festival. Now we can enjoy gyros, baklava, and other yummy Greek specialties any day of the week at Athena Greek Taverna on Stratford Road. I was browsing restaurants online and found their website. They have a lot going on. Their homepage advertises a good special for early bird diners. On Wednesday and Thursday from 3pm to 5pm if you buy 1 entree at regular price, you get a 2nd entree for 1/2 price. Every Tuesday evening, they have live music. And…..They’ve opened Athena Greek Pita Express in Clemmons (Hours: 11am – 9pm Monday – Saturday).
I had last been to Athena with a friend to celebrate my birthday and another visit was long overdue. Jerry and I started with a couple of appetizers. The Kalamari Tiganito were tender rings of squid with a light breading, deep fried until the outside was golden and crisp. The kalamari was served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping and several wedges of lemon. Next time, we will ask if they can include some tentacles; they are my favorite.
The Melitzanes & Kolokithia stole the show. Sliced eggplant and zucchini had been fried and was served with a dish of Scordalia (a spread of potatoes mixed with loads of wonderful garlic). Other appetizers we’ve tried and very much enjoyed in the past include Saganaki (Greek cheese, flamed in brandy), Spanakopita (phyllo dough stuffed with spinach, feta cheese and herbs), and my personal favorite the Tirokateri (whipped feta cheese with hot roasted peppers).
Our entrees came with a Greek salad (iceberg lettuce, red onion, cucumber, green bell pepper, kalamata olives, tons of feta cheese, and sliced tomato with a vinaigrette style dressing). The server brought us a basket of bread for the table.
My entrée was the Moussaka. It was a huge. The top layer was a custard style bechamel sauce. Underneath this thick, creamy topping was a layer of ground meat seasoned with lots of herbs and nutmeg. The bottom layer had roasted zucchini & eggplant and sliced potatoes. It was served with rice.
I paired three beers with my food. It was challenging for me to evaluate the Greek beers. The pale lagers and pilsners that are suited for the hot Mediterranean climate aren’t the type of beer that I prefer. I usually go for IPAs, stouts, and other styles that have dominant elements and notes. The Mythos Hellenic lager (4.7% ABV) had a clear, golden color and a simple, refreshing taste. Pils Hellas, a pale lager (4.9% ABV), was crisp, with a dry finish, light body, and high carbonation. It would be a very drinkable beer in the summer. The straight forward pale lager, Blue Island (4.5% ABV), was quite effervescent and would go well with a wedge of lime or lemon on the beach. If you’re not a beer drinker, Athena also has a selection of wines.
Jerry had the Souvlaki Combo with Lamb, Chicken, and Pork. He selected the Lemon Potatoes and Green Beans as his two sides. Well-seasoned, with a slight bit of char from the grill marks, and served with a side of tzatziki for dipping, the flavorful meats were lean and tender. The lamb had a bit of pink in the middle and was our favorite. We boxed up some of our entrees to save room for dessert.
For dessert, I ordered the Galaktoboureko. It had layers of thin, buttered phyllo that sandwiched a unique custard made with fine semolina. It was soaked and rested in sweet syrup.
Jerry tried the nutella and coconut crepe. They gave us fair warning that it would take 10 minutes or so to prepare the crepe. It was definitely worth the wait. The crepe itself was excellent. I think the heavy shredded coconut detracted a bit from the simple elegance of the dessert. I would stick to the jam or hazelnut chocolate spread next time.
We enjoyed our dinner at Athena Greek Taverna and look forward to returning. What’s your favorite Greek dish?