Saturday, July 28, 2006
Our VT dinner meeting was held in Chicago's Greektown at the GREEK ISLANDS RESTAURANT & LOUNGE.What an excellent choice. It had such a wonderful atmosphere. When you first walk in you can actually smell the garlic wafting through the air. And all around you can see the waiters presenting the flaming saganaki cheese to their eager patrons. There were twelve of us all together - a nice size group. I sat next to DeeCat as we had so much to talk about.
I ordered from the "Traditional Favorites" page and decided upon the Combination Plate. The generous platter consisted of roast leg of lamb, mousaka (baked eggplant, ground meat and potato casserole with bechamel sauce ), dolmades ( tender grape leaves stuffed with rice, ground meat and herbs ), meatball, vegetables and potatoes. It was all excellent and priced at $12.95.
Hans ordered from the "Seafood" page and decided upon the broiled seafood shishkabob. His generous platter had a shishkabob made up of swordfish, salmon and catch of the day seafood chunks, along with a side of a rice bed and potato. He raved about it and it was priced at $16.95.
Also ordered for all of us to enjoy were plates of flaming saganaki cheese ( $4.95 ) which was flambed tableside of course, to the delight of all of us. OPA!!! Also ordered was pan fried calamari ( tender squid lightly fried and served with their zesty homemade cocktail sauce ) which was priced at $6.50/11.95.
The Greek Islands is obviously popular with both locals and tourists, as it was absolutely packed with people on a Saturday night.
For VT meet photos, check out travelogue
On Saturday, July 29, 2006, we had a small VT meeting in Chicago at the Greek Islands Restauarant located in Greektown. I took the Metra, walked four blocks, and arrived about an hour early. Thus, I had plenty of time to peruse the area and the restaurant as well as to take photographs. The third photo shows the sign indicating free valet parking, which is a BIG DEAL in Chicago. Thus, if you need to drive to Greektown, eat here and park for free...I'd advice a tip for the valet, however.
Greek Islands is named for Corfu, Crete, Kithira, Patmos, Santorini, Rhodes, Hydra, and Lefkada Islands of Greece. The restaurant is known, of course, for delicious Greek Cuisine and for its outstanding, efficient service.
There were 12 of us, and there were always three people or more attending to our table.
I was enthralled with the decor of the restaurant with its authentic look and "feel"...Greek music was playing in the background, but it was subtle and did not detract from our lively conversations.
Favorite Dish: I was the only one of the 12 of us who ordered a salad (they don't know what they missed!). I had the Athenian, which is a traditional Greek salad made with mixed greens, fresh vine-ripe tomatoes, Greek olives, feta cheese and Greek salad dressing.
I also ate more than my share of Flaming Saganaki Cheese (Greek cheese flambed tableside). In addition, I had the appetizer-sized "Homemade Gyros" (Beef and lamb sliced thin, onions, pita bread, and a special sauce).
I sat next to yooperprof (Chet), LoriPori (Lori), and Waalewiener (Hansi). Chet enjoyed Kokkinisto (Lamb braised in a special tomato sauce served with rice, potatoes or baked vegetables); Lori loved her Combination Plate (Roast leg of lamb, mousaka, domades, meatball, vegetables, and potatoes); and Hansi seemed to relish his Broiled Seafood Shishkabob (shrimp, swordfish, and salmon chunks with rice and potatoes or baked vegetables).
I personally could not finish my Gyros because I was so full...too full to even attempt a dessert. Now, that's really full!
This was a lively place on a Sunday night. I arrived a bit early so I went to the bar for a drink and to await the others in our dinner party. To my right there was a large table with about 10 people sitting there. They were obviously family or friends of the owners for they were conversing loudly in Greek and laughing with the waitstaff who brought tons of food in bowls for the entire group. It gave such a feeling of comfort and good cheer on such a chilly night.
Favorite Dish: If you like cheese then for starters you should give the Hot Saganaki cheese a try, it is flambe'd right at your table and oh so very tasty. I then had Pastichio which is similar to lasagne, baked pasta, ground meat and cheese casserole with béchamel sauce (white sauce). I honestly do not remember what everyone had as we were having such a good time. I believe Kristi had a lamb and beef gyro. Everyone was happy with the food I do know that and that we all ate very well as we had no room left for dessert.
Last visit to Greek Islands March 2012
Greek Islands is my favorite restaurant in Greektown, the interior is pleasantly decorated to look like a Greek taverna the food is consistently good and although it's one of the larger restaurants in Greektown, the service is always efficient, not always over friendly but not rude.
Greektown restaurants get more lively on evenings on the weekend, on Saturday nights it is always packed, but I have eaten here during the week at lunch and on a Sunday afternoon and it is rather sedate. They don't take reservations after a certain time on the weekends (I believe it's 6pm but call and check), it's a big restaurant and even at prime time on Saturday night we only had to wait for about 15 minutes for a table for 7 people. I noticed a few outdoor tables on our last visit but it was still a bit chilly for it.
I've tried quite a few of the restaurants in Greektown, Santorini (good food, tends towards seafood), Rodity's (smaller menu, good food), Costa's (fire has closed it), Pegasus (good food) and Athena (my least favorite for food but a nice outdoor dining area). But I always prefer the food at Greek Islands.
Although it's usually not too hard to find a parking spot, Greek Islands has a free valet service, be sure to tip the valet though.
Favorite Dish: I've tried many dishes at Greek Islands, I have enjoyed the gyros plate (lamb, tomato, onions and sauce), Pastichio (a lasagna type dish with meat, pasta and sweet spices) and several different lamb specials. For appetizers we've tried skordalia (garlic spread for the bread), saganaki (flaming cheese) and calamari, all terrific! Greek Islands also has an excellent option for family style dining for two or more people to try a variety of dishes or an option to have a two entree combo plate if you just can't decide.
Greeks Islands offers wonderful ambience and splendid cuisine. If you're looking for good tasting Greek food then this is definitely a great place to go!
Favorite Dish: I had the shrimp baked in tomato sauce - Delicious!!!
I chose a combination plate of two main courses--filo pie with spinach and feta, and vegetarian moussaka. On the right is my side order of (fantastic!) okra baked with tomatoes, oil, dill, and garlic. The meal comes with a bottomless bread bowl, served with excellent extra virgin olive oil.
Favorite Dish: The moussaka was spiced wonderfully--more than usual, with a layer of potato on top...just right!
Another of Dabs fantastic recommendations although we never did try the speciality flaming saganaki cheese followed by a supposably enthusiastic Oooopa.
I found the staff exceptionally friendly and it has a real greek atmosphere and very busy a good sign. Sandy ordered a gyros (this is doner meat for those brits) but of a higher quality. I ordered the chicken shishkabob or maybe it was the lamb which was skewered with vegetables served with rice. Someone attentively looked after us with filling the water glasses. The meal was very reasonable and I felt too full for desert although I regret not having dolmades for starters - wrapped vine leaves.
My second-ever venture into Greektown, in July 2004, brought me to Greek Islands for a Saturday lunch. I had been to the Parthenon down the street a few months before, and was very impressed, but Greek Islands is even better, in my opinion. Many consider it the best Greek restaurant in America, and I would agree! Our experience was memorable, service was excellent, the atmosphere was very authentic, and prices were quite reasonable.
Favorite Dish: See tips below...
All four of us were pleased with everything we ordered, so I doubt you can go wrong here! The selection for vegetarians is slightly limited due to the ethnic influence of lamb and seafood, but the options that are available are delicious! (Look for a vegetarian moussaka as a daily special.) Spices run rampant and garlic abounds... :)
Favorite Dish: Dessert, of course. The best baklava and galaktoburiko I've ever had...and I've had a lot of both. ;) And the Greek coffee (similar to Turkish and Armenian brews--very strong, with a layer of sludge at the bottom of the cup!) is a perfect accompaniment.
The atmosphere throughout the restaurant is designed to fit in with the decor of the Mediterranean Greek Islands...cool blues, yellows, and white with crisp linens, stone, and whitewashed walls. It is not an especially casual place (although lunch can be), but no dress code is required.
Greek Islands is Greektown's anchor restaurant. This is truly one of the best Greek restaurants outside of Greece. It has a Greek village atmosphere with a bit of a fast pace. This is a place I have been going to ever since I can remember (although Athena is now my favorite).
Greek Islands is open for lunch and dinner. It is very popular with the lunch crowd and the service is excellent. For dinner on a Friday or Saturday night, you may have to wait up to 20 minutes. Dress is casual.
Favorite Dish: When I am in the mood for Greek-style seafood, this is where I go. Greek Islands has the best seafood in Greektown. My personal favorite is Octapodi Kokkinisto (octopus in a tomato & onion sauce with cracked peppers). The other Greek dishes besides seafood are very authentic, but I still recommend a seafood dish.
For appetizers, the avgolemono soup is very good, and the skordalia is good, too. For dessert, the Creme Caramel and Rizogalo (rice pudding) is worth a try.
And my rule stands for ordering gyros here as it does in all Greek restaurants - DON'T DO IT! Get something real.
Greek Islands is now my favorite Greektown restaurant. I really like the ambience, decor, and the light. And the food was quite good and reasonably priced, I thought. We had a VT meet-up here in July 2006, and I think everyone was pleased with the quality, the selection and the location. Oh - and it was great to see so many great people all in one place.
Favorite Dish: The spanokopeta was top-notch as an app, and I had an excellent chicken entree that filled me up nicely.
Greek Islands is an institution in the heart of Chicago's Greek Town. It draws a diverse crowd, but the majority are Greeks and they come to have a lively celebration!
Favorite Dish: It's hard to go wrong with anything here, but the appetizers are by far my favorites and ordering a few appetizers in lieu of a main course makes fo ragreat meal! Try some of the dips with pita bread: taramousalata, fish row (eggs) in a creamy base or spicy and cool Tzaziki sauce (cucumber, yogurt and garlic).
But the best dish--if not only for the show--is the Saganaki, a large slab of goat's cheese flamed in brandy at your table. Opaa! Once the surprisingly large flame dies down (see if the waiter still has his eyebrows...), cut a pices and slpa it on their freshly baked bread. Wonderful!
Also worthy of mention are the stuffed green peppers and mousaka.
If you like good, authentic Greek food, then you'll love the food at Greek Islands. Finding truly authentic Greek food in the US is difficult because a lot of places that claim to have Greek food don't have any idea what they're talking about. Everything I ate at Greek Islands was just like the food I've had during trips to Greece, the only difference being that the portions were a bit larger. If you can request a table, ask to be put in the dining area where the kitchen is. The seating area in that room is terraced like Santorini and seems like the liveliest area of the restaurant.