Homer’s “The Odyssey” tells the epic story of a guy trying to get back home.
If the folks back in Athens served the kind of food you’ll find at the new Odyssey Grill and Bar (6161 E. 82nd St, 436-7041), you might wonder why Odysseus left in the first place.
Not a showy, flaming-cheese-style eatery nor a standard Greek diner, Odyssey serves up epic portions of Greek comfort food with enough care taken to warrant repeat visits. One meal here didn’t make it my favorite Greek eatery in the city, but I was certainly impressed—and overstuffed—after a lunch visit with two guests.
We started with soups and salads, since they were included with entrees. On the soup side, the Avgolemono ($3.99 on its own), offered a slightly-more-than-standard lemon kick in a hearty rice and chicken broth mix. It proved far more successful than the Chef’s Choice daily soup ($3.99), a tomato/basil combo with enough twang to top any seaborne siren. The Classic Greek Salad ($5.99—more with chicken, skirt steak, shrimp or gyro meat) was both Classic and Greek—exactly what you want and expect.
For entrees, our waitress repeatedly stated her favorites, so we took her up on two of them, the Moussaka and the less familiar Pasticho (each $11.99). The Moussaka packed plenty of eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and ground beef between its layers of pasta, and the result was daunting and delicious. The Pasticho, a moussaka variation, mixed baked macaroni into the ground beef, spices and cheese. Topped with a béchamel sauce that provided a nice prelude to many movements that followed, both deep-dish casseroles stood tall.
The pleasant surprise of the meal was the Athenian Chicken Fillet ($10.49), a simple, tender, split chicken breast marinated in extra virgin olive oil and smartly accented with Greek seasonings. Of the sides, we’d pass next time on the Fasolika (string beans—a bit overcooked—in tomato sauce) in favor of the Briami (baked mixed veggies), which offered a nice savory flavor, the simple and well-handled asparagus, or the oven-roasted potatoes, which got a little boost from some sliced tomatoes.
Desserts? Of course we tried the rich and flaky housemade Baklava ($3.99), but supplemented it with a Galaktoburiko ($4.59), a creamy custard baked with phyllo dough and soaked in lemon and orange-infused syrup. The sweet, citrusy creation couldn’t have moved off our plate faster if Hermes were carrying it.•
Second in a month-long series of reviews of late-in-the-year restaurant newcomers.