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My Big Fat Greek Disappointment

Kara King | Monday, October 13, 2008

Located just past Cleveland on 31, Eleni’s is the type of place that’s easy to miss – and it should stay that way. Upon entering, one is immediately struck by the décor. Kindly described as ‘eclectic,’ it certainly makes a statement. With unmatching patterns on every piece of furniture and assorted unrelated objects covering every inch of wall space (including, among other things, a sombrero, a Greek column, a fishless aquarium and a trombone), perhaps “crazy blind grandma’s house” is more accurate. Decorations aside, the menu itself is something to behold. While Eleni’s claims to offer many Greek specialties, they are definitely a minority on the menu, which offers everything from pancakes to chicken nuggets. Indeed, the menu was so vast the waitress wasn’t even aware of everything offered. This was far from the server’s only flaw. The service at Eleni’s seems to have absolutely nothing going for it. At least one table got up and left after ordering since it was taking so long. Refills were few and far between and were, on more than one occasion, brought to the wrong table.By the time the appetizers arrived, an hour after ordered, things were starting to look up. The food was actually surprisingly tolerable. The Greek salad had an authentic-tasting dressing, and the Saganaki (Fried cheese) was delicious, although the waitress did struggle a bit to light the brandy and as a result there was quite a bit that never burned off. Things then began to go downhill at a rapid rate. There was another hour or so wait before the entrées arrived. And once they did, there was much left to be desired. The souvlaki was cold and bland, the moussaka tasted like overcooked mush, the spanakopita (spinach pie) had more mint than spinach and the pastitsio (Greek lasagna) consisted of overly-cinnamon flavored beef covered in what appeared to be paste.Not all the food was so terrible. The gyro meat was actually mediocre (they neglected to serve any of the traditional veggies in the sandwich though), and the tzatziki sauce could rival the dining hall’s (although when the waitress isn’t sure if the sauce goes with the gyro or the moussaka there’s cause for concern). The Greek-style chicken wasn’t half bad either, and the potatoes actually tasted like something that could be found in Greece. But when the best a restaurant has to offer are potatoes, salad and a struggle for mediocrity, there’s work to be done.Eleni’s is the perfect example of what happens when you spread yourself too thin. The servers and chefs have no idea what is going on and struggle when more than one table needs help. The menu offers something for everyone, although judging by the quality of the supposed specialties, there’s not much hope for the other offerings. If the food waas not so sub-par, the prices would appear reasonable given the generous portions (all entrées came with a salad, Greek-style potatoes and rice). But when you walk out feeling like you paid $10 for the side dishes, the cost-to-satisfaction ratio isn’t good. When all’s said and done, an evening at Eleni’s is not worth the time or effort it takes to get there.

Service: 0 of 4Food: 0.5 of 4Atmosphere: 1.5 of 4Cost: 1 of 4Overall 0.75 of 4