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A fine summer’s meal from the Mad Greek

Mystery Diner • Jun 16, 2017 at 8:27 AM

As the weather gets warmer, the sun shines longer, the plants grow taller and my gardening chore workload gets heavier, as in lugging and toting. I currently judge the difference between cypress mulch and pine mulch not by weight, but by heft.

I’ve learned a whole new range of “old guy” sounds to emit, each one to accompany my lifting 50-pound sacks of mulch from display pile to cart to pickup truck bed. I prefer mornings for this activity, using afternoons to recover.

One particular day, my morning schedule got shoved forward to early afternoon. Chores’ end left me feeling like every one of the cleanup crew working Ben Hur’s chariot race. After a cold drink and hot shower, I hit on the idea of having a leisurely meal with my friends, the dine-around bunch.

With the Retiree out of town, I contacted my friends the Carnivore and Dieter and suggested they join my dining partner and me for supper at the Mad Greek International Cafe. The four of us arrived just before the 5 o’clock hour.

At my dining partner’s request, we were seated on the central promenade near the fountain. Before settling in, I ordered a platter of Mad Greek’s avocado egg rolls ($10.99) for the dine-around bunch to munch on while we discussed menu options. Drinks and the egg rolls returned with perfect timing, and our server was able to take our orders.

Due to the late afternoon heat, we’d all decided on lighter evening fare instead of a full meal. My dining partner chose a steak sub sandwich ($9.99). The Dieter picked the chicken Caesar stuffed pita ($8.99) with a side order of steamed broccoli as her supper option. The Carnivore ordered the Zesty Chicken sub sandwich ($8.99) and I chose a dinner-sized Greek salad of organic spring greens ($8.99).

It took the Mad Greek’s kitchen 20 minutes to create our orders and have them at table side, but the wait was well worth it.

Besides, we’d been enjoying our appetizer while we waited. Whoever thought of putting fresh avocados, corn, onions and sun-dried tomatoes inside an egg roll wrapper, deep-frying them and then serving this creation with an excellent cilantro and honey dipping sauce gets a “well done” from all of us. Who knew eating your vegetables could taste this great?

My Greek salad with the organic spring greens was everything a green salad should be: the spinach and Bibb lettuce leaves were so fresh they snapped when chewed on. The onions, peppers (both green and banana varieties) and herb-infused Kalamata olives were also in attendance, along with a quantity of nicely crumbled feta cheese. A mélange of flavors by the forkful, enhanced nicely with some of the scratch-made Greek salad dressing.

Meanwhile, my dining partner was eating her steak sub sandwich, and from the sound of things, loving every bite of it. Taking grilled steak and onions, with mushrooms (replacing the green peppers) on a toasted sub sandwich roll, then topping it with mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise made my partner’s sandwich a rapidly vanishing species indeed.

When not sneaking “tastes” of my Greek salad, the Dieter was enjoying her chicken Caesar pita very much. Here, Mad Greek marinates and then grills a boneless breast of chicken, then serves it in warm, fluffy pita bread with crisp, torn Romaine lettuce leaves, aged Parmesan cheese and scratch-made Caesar dressing. Even the side order of steamed broccoli was well done.

The Carnivore’s Zesty chicken sub sandwich provoked a discussion about whether the chicken itself or the sandwich as a whole was wearing the “zesty” moniker.

Our decision was that the word zesty means the onion sauté used on the chicken had lemon juice and extra ground black pepper added to it. The sautéed chicken was then tossed with the onions, mozzarella cheese, lettuce and tomato and served on the toasted sub roll. The Carnivore did have a good time, though I caught him more than once staring at my dining partner’s steak sub with intent.

Despite the siren song being sung by the Mad Greek cake and pie display case, the four of us decided dessert would have to wait for another visit.

In addition to Greek (ah, spanokopita) and Aegean (ah, dolmatika) specialties, Mad Greek also does pizza in three sizes, plus a 10-inch gluten-free pie, with a variety of toppings you can either have ready-made or do-it-yourself. There are also calzone and stromboli offerings, with the chipotle chicken ($10.99) a particular favorite of mine.

Mad Greek also offers kids’ meals from $6.99 featuring (sigh) breadsticks and marinara sauce, or breaded chicken strips with French fries. Not to downplay the kiddies’ menu, but my advice is for you to be sensible and order your offspring something from the Mad Greek’s adult menu. It is always a good idea to broaden a child’s food knowledge and cultural outlook.

My parents did that for me and look how I turned out.

Mad Greek International Café

2010 Terrace Court

Johnson City

328-9070

Sun -Thu 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Fri – Sat 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Available on Facebook

Credit cards accepted

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