Psistaria Greek Taverna
4711 W Touhy Ave.
Lincolnwood, IL 60712
Consort and I broke our 60-day record of home cooked meals by visiting a renown Greek restaurant in Lincolnwood – four blocks from where I grew up and just down the street from the old purple Hyatt Hotel. Pulling into the entrance, one could easily mistake the restaurant for a Mexican taqueria, complete with a prominent ‘Valet Parking Only’ sign. Its Southwestern tile roof and one-level nondescript architecture belies the quality of the Greek cuisine served inside Psistaria Greek Taverna.
We sat side-by-side at a four-top, complete with white linen, side of sliced lemons, and an authentic Greek olive oil, Horio EVOO. Our server, Andrea, presented a half loaf of crunchy, crusty, sesame toasted rounds dotted with oregano and brushed with a garlicky butter which had us salivating like Pavlov’s dogs.
We scanned the extensive menu, starting with a meze (appetizer), and settled on taramosalata, a creamy peach-colored fish roe spread, known as Greek caviar, high in omega-3 fatty acids, three times more protein than hummus, and a great source of vitamin D. Think Mediterranean diet. The roe, a perfect match for bread service, except for one thing, we’ve always had it with Pita. WHERE’S THE PITA?? When I posed the question, our server said they could sell us a fresh quartered pita for seventy-five cents. We decided to pass on the side order and dip the previously proffered toast in the roe, as suggested. Hey, if we’re visit Greece one day, we need to be hip to the local foods. This pita frenzy turned out to be our misconception, as we were informed by the owner, Pete Bournas, how the Greeks eat loaves of sesame bread with everything. It’s heart Healthy.
For a second meze, we chose four small dolmades, grape leaves stuffed with onion, ground beef and lamb, rice, and served in an egg-lemon sauce. Lots of lemon at the table. Consort has loved this dish for years and always chooses it whenever we eat Greek. He dubbed them ‘perfect’ as he spooned extra yellow sauce over the rolled delicacies.
Next came our favorite, avgolemono, a traditional Greek soup made with chicken broth, rice, and an ‘egg-lemon’ aioli, cooked fresh daily and probably the most popular item on the menu. If it was a drug, we’d both be addicts.
For a main entrée, we opted for six petite loin lamb chops to share. At this point, I was feeling full, mostly from a bread overdose and not sure if I could handle more than a few nibbles. The perfectly seasoned grilled chops featured a small flavorful nugget of meat around a tasty midget size T-bone. We ate a few bites of cooked roasted potato, not because it wasn’t delicious, but we were full-up.
If you’re licking your lips now or drooling for some great gourmet Greek, know that soup and potatoes are included with your choice of entre. What a deal!
Andrea brought us our check with a to-go container filled with a double decker dessert – Ekmek, kataifi, a finely spun Greek pastry, layered with vanilla custard, whip cream, slivered almonds, and sprinkled with cinnamon. She told us, “Enjoy!”
The staff, attentive, personable, and knowledgeable, were as flamboyant as the saganaki (flaming cheese) and homemade bougatsa (flambéed custard desert).
Each time we visit a Greek restaurant, I long for a vacation in Greece. The assistant manager, Gregori, originally from Ipiro, a village in the mountains in northern Greece, when asked which island he prefers, answered without hesitation, “Go to Crete.” His reasons followed: You can scuba dive, parasail, take a glass-bottomed boat tour, and walk miles of sandy beaches and craggy coves.”
If you were dating Crete, you could Tinder-swipe dozens of monasteries, fortresses, and antiquities.
I just remembered he ended with “Crete has the best cheese’, but if I wanted a primo fromage, I’d visit Wisconsin, less than an hour drive from Chicago, or fly to Paris.
Psistaria Greek Taverna is a family-owned restaurant serving traditional Greek cuisine from all areas of Greece. The recipes are the brainchild of chef owner, George Bournas, who began his culinary career bussing dishes and line cooking in Greek Town.