I've always enjoyed Greek food, but it's not something I've ever eaten a whole lot of, and there aren't a lot of Greek places in Austin. I have heard good things about El Greco, at 31st and Guadalupe, and it was finally time to go check it out with two of my girlfriends.
The place is a little more casual inside than I expected; they have a counter with a register, and perhaps they use that for order taking during lunch or busy times. Otherwise, it's a seat-yourself place, and there was once hostess/waitress managing the floor. She was warm and friendly from the start, and was patient with us as we chatted and looked at the menu. We all had a different glass of wine, and we started with the tiropita appetizer, phyllo dough filled with feta cheese. Unfortunately, I could tell from the moment they were brought out that they were anemic. They were undercooked, so there was not a great deal of flakiness to them, and the layers on the bottom were more raw than those on top. One of us commented that it needed a drizzle of olive oil. We noticed later that most of the other tables did in fact have a bottle of oil on them, but ours did not. We did eat the whole thing, but it needs some more time in the oven, for certain.
We decided to get a couple different dishes and just share everything. First came the pastitsio, also known as Greek lasagna. It's tubular noodles with seasoned ground beef, in a bechamel sauce. Not overly rich, it had nice flavor, and we got a Greek salad with it. Maybe a little disappointed that their Greek salad doesn't have nice chunks of feta cheese, but rather a sprinkling on top. The pita, while not necessarily necessary with a pasta dish, was very nice and soft.
Next was the Greek meat plate for two along with a bigger Greek salad, and an order of "Greco peas" -- English peas in a very light and mild tomato sauce; quite tasty too. Let's cut to the chase though, the meats were fantastic! From left to right in the picture you have: beeftekee, two lamb chops, pork souvlaki (kebab) and chicken souvlaki.
The beeftekee is ground beef, mixed with herbs and spices, shaped into a loaf, and grilled. Well seasoned, and just a bit of feta on top. The lamb chops, while well-done, still had great lamb flavor, and I had no qualms about picking the bone up and eating it with my fingers. Both of the souvlakis were tender, moist, and grilled perfectly. Again, the meats are by far, the star of this show. On their website is a video segment on how they prepare the lamb chops -- cut them, soak (brine?), drain, marinate, grill, with the soak, drain, and marinate taking a couple hours each. Tasty though!
For dessert, how can you pass up baklava, especially when billed as "Chef Jake's grandmother's recipe"? This was in a spiral, with a lot of sweet syrup poured over top, so it kind of lost it's flakiness. It's interesting how many different forms baklava can take! I think I prefer mine with nice crisp layers, lasagna style, rather than rolled up or even shredded.I would hope El Greco would update their website to accurately reflect the prices now being charged on the menu, and that the prices redacted on the printed menus at the restaurant would be filled in with the current rates. Also, I heard the waitress talking to the table next to us, saying they no longer serve breakfast because they didn't have enough business. It's still listed on the web, as is a coupon for free coffee with breakfast. It is nice, though, that they have a gluten free menu online, as well as plenty of vegetarian options. Would be a shame though, to miss out on those meats.