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DAVID NELSON / ON RESTAURANTS

Mykonos Spices Greek Menu With Sea Entrees

May 23, 1991|DAVID NELSON

Dine in enough Greek restaurants and you begin to wonder if the people of that cradle of literature never get to eat anything besides avgolemono soup, moussaka, souvlaki , roast chicken basted with lemon, roast lamb and baklava.

In truth, they do, although menus at Greek restaurants in this country tend to deny the fact. The phenomenon of lists that repeat almost verbatim from one establishment to the next by no means is restricted to Greek restaurants; in San Diego County, Chinese houses duplicate one another's menus with what almost seems a fierce and dedicated glee.

Mykonos, rather quaintly situated in the Cape Cod Village development in the Oceanside Marina, offers all the Greek usuals but, partly because it also is a seafood house, uses the stuffed grape leaves-and- spanokopita litany as a jumping-off spot for a menu that extends to baked octopus, an Aegean-style bouillabaisse and a number of other less-familiar preparations.

The decor takes up the blue-and-white theme so associated with Greece, especially with its islands, of which Mykonos is one of the more famous. Boat masts rise up just outside the windows, and there is a comfortable airiness to the place, owing much to the cleared central section, which on weekends becomes a performance area for a belly dancer and a small, live band. On quieter nights, the piped-in bouzouki music is kept at a low volume as a pleasant background for table talk.

The restaurant has a motto, "Once a Week--Go Greek," a cycle that if observed would require eight months to work through the entree list before repetition became necessary. Inevitably, the weekly diner would encounter such things as dolmades (grape leaves, stuffed with an herbed rice-ground beef mixture), souvlaki skewers of marinated lamb or chicken; herbed lamb chops, lamb rack and leg of lamb, and lamb youvetsi , or chunks of flesh braised in a strong tomato sauce and served with orzo , the very Greek, rice-shaped pasta.

Less typical are such items as the chicken Salonika, a boneless breast baked with a mixture of sauteed onions and spinach and sprinkled with crumbles of pungent cheese. This treatment repeats with sea bass on the seafood list, which also offers a somewhat different bass dish, psari plaki , in which the filet bakes under a smartly herbed cloak of chopped tomatoes and onions.

Among other choices are the Island-style shrimp, described by the menu as "Greek BBQ," or charbroiled specimens basted with lemon, olive oil, herbs and garlic, and the Greek-style bouillabaisse, a soup-stew of fish, assorted shellfish and vegetables that seems exactly in line with Mediterranean coastal cooking. Dishes like this abound wherever fishermen set sail before dawn.

Roasted red peppers garnish the broiled red snapper and swordfish, each seasoned with the herbs and garlic that the kitchen employs with abandon; these seasonings turn up almost breathtakingly in the scampi Nikolas, a tasty saute of jumbo prawns finished with bell peppers, feta cheese and a binding of tomato sauce of considerable strength.

Mykonos uses a great deal of this tomato sauce, even ladling it over the moussaka, which at least in the United States seems an unusual treatment. This dish frankly tasted better with the sauce scraped off, more delicate that most and with a good cinnamon flavor to the casserole of layered eggplant and ground beef baked under white sauce. Like most entrees, the garnish included both well-flavored rice pilaf and a fat slice of roasted potato, flavorfully basted with lemon juice.

Although meals tend to be large and include the choice of lemony avgolemono soup or a good, Greek-style salad, it is difficult to ignore the appetizers.

There are the usual, tasty dip-like salads and salad-like dips served with triangles of warm pita bread, including roasted eggplant salad, the cool cucumber-yogurt mix called tzatziki and taramas , a shocking pink mash of red caviar and seasonings.

More on the daring side is the octapodi crasato , or octopus baked in wine, oil and vinegar. A selection of many choices (not the octopus, however) is offered on the mezedes platter, which serves four comfortably and two overwhelmingly.

Among desserts, the kitchen offers one of the best Greek contributions to the art of baking, the lovely egg custard in phyllo dough called galactobouriko.

MYKONOS

258 Harbor Drive South, Oceanside Marina

Calls: 757-8757

Hours: dinner nightly

Cost: Entrees $9.95 to $17.95; dinner for two, including a glass of wine each, tax and tip, about $35 to $65

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