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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Plates at Olympic Flame: Little bites, bold flavors.

On a visit to Olympic Flame in the East Village, I ordered up a Combo Plate dinner of pastitsio, moussaka, tiropita, spanakopeta, dolma, and orzo pasta. Dinners at Olympic Flame include soup, salad, and bread.

The lemony chicken soup with orzo would be the perfect dish to combat the common cold, if it only came in quarts. A side salad of lettuce, tomato, kalamata olives, and feta cheese, swimming in a simple red wine vinaigrette, is a palate cleanser.

Pastitsio, below left, offers macaroni and seasoned ground beef, topped with a custardy cream sauce and baked. I could wreck a pan of this! Moussaka, below right, is a classic Greek casserole made of layered fried eggplant slices with seasoned ground beef, tomato, and capped with a mixture of Parmesan and ricotta. Opa!

Tiropeta is a phyllo pastry stuffed with feta and ricotta. Spanakopita, below left and a personal favorite of mine, is another phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. I’ve had it as crispy triangles, as squares cut from both baking pans and sheet pans, and in one instance as a Hot Pocket of the damned. Olympic Flame’s spana is light and crispy, with a tasty pouch of filling within. Its as good as you’ll find it in these parts, beyond the Greek Food Fair held each year on the first weekend in June.

Olympic Flame’s dolma is a delightful bite-sized ball of grape leaves wrapped around a ground beef filling, topped with melted cheese. Its too bad you only get one on the Combo Plate. A half-dozen would make a nice snack.

On another occasion I stopped in for lunch. The Gyros Plate appetizer with sliced, grilled gyros meat, fried zucchini, pita points, and tzatziki sauce was a much lighter alternative to a full gyros sandwich with fries. Zucchini fried in a light batter were quite surprising, and even more delicious dipped in cucumber-laden tzatziki. An unexpected lagniappe: shots of ouzo with the proud chef. Opa!

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