#224: Kabob & Gyro Grill

Tonight I was joined by the whole family for dinner at the new Kabob & Gyro Grill.  This new Greek/Mediterranean joint is located in the Family Fitness shopping center at Foothills & Junction.  They are in the old Kazoku Teriyaki spot by Original Pete’s.  Kazoku has moved around the corner, to the far opposite side of the center, into a bigger location.

They kind of snuck in here while I wasn’t paying attention.  A reader tipped me off to them.  They don’t have a website, but from reading some reviews it sounds like they have a location in Elk Grove already and that this one has been open for at least a month and a half.  While I was inside I heard them discussing with a customer another location they are putting in out in Rancho Cordova, so I’ll definitely be looking out for that on future lunch breaks.

I arrived a couple minutes before everyone else and stepped in to look around.  The basic layout is the same as it was with Kazoku, a narrow space with the kitchen on the left and dining on the right.  The only major change I noticed was that there is now black carpeting instead of the light blue tiles.  The chairs are the same but the tables are new.  On the menu, for the most part, you have a choice of steak, chicken or lamb in either kabobs, wraps or plates.  The prices seem to be in line with a good Greek place I like over in Rancho (Eat A Pita).  Everything is between $6-13.  For $2.50 more you can add a drink and either fries, basmati rice or a greek salad.

The family arrived and soon after, a similarly sized group.  I thought my people were right behind me when I jumped up to get my order in before the rush, but apparently they were still looking at menus.  Luckily the observant cook noticed this and, as I stepped away from the register, asked me if I would like him to prepare my order with the rest of my party.  That was a good plan and I appreciated him offering to do so.

Our food took maybe 10-15 minutes.  After I ordered there was a very consistent stream of people coming in and the guy working the counter never really had much chance to help out in the kitchen, leaving one cook to handle everything.  Even so, they did a decent job of keeping up with the level of business.

Most of the family ordered the Combination Plate (thin marinated slices of steak & chicken)[$9.99].  All platters come with basmati rice, salad, hummus, tzatziki sauce and a hot piece of pita bread.  They were pretty good sized plates.  Everyone was really happy with this.  I tried some of the hummus with pita bread (which really was hot) and it was delicious.  I might go for a side of that next time.  My dad got the Lamb Kabob (two skewers of marinated lamb cooked over fire)[$12.99].  All Kabob dishes come with onions and tomatoes, served over basmati rice with salad, hummus, tzatziki sauce and a hot piece of pita bread.  This looked just as good and had nice big chunks of juicy-looking lamb.

I ordered the Steak Shawarma (Thin, marinated slices of steak)[$5.99].  All shawarma dishes are topped with fresh lettuce, onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce, all wrapped in a hot thin bread.  Basically it was a shawarma burrito.  They grill the whole thing a bit to crisp up the wrap.  This was much bigger than I expected for $6.  I didn’t really need the side of fries I got with the $2.50 combo adder.  Those were incredibly hot and crisp, right out the of the frier no doubt.  They were a bit bland, but some ketchup easily remedied that.  The shawarma wrap was fantastic.  The steak wasn’t as heavily seasoned as it is at the Eat A Pita in Rancho, where I most often get shawarma, but it was still quite flavorful.  The lettuce and onions were both fresh and crisp and the tomatoes were good as well, though perhaps could have been slightly more ripe.  They ask how spicy you’d like your food, mild, medium or spicy.  I went with medium and I did notice a bit of spice, though next time I’m definitely going to try spicy.

All in all I was impressed.  The price is right and the food is solid.  The handful of other reviews I’ve read have been almost unanimously positive.  My mom said that while she likes Daphne’s, she thought this was better.  I would say that it’s a bit better than the Milo’s Grill in the Galleria, which is probably some of the better Greek food in Roseville.  As I said earlier, I’ll definitely be looking out for their future Rancho Cordova location as well.

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

#192: Milo’s Grill

It’s been a little while but I’m still alive and today I’m back to work.  Some time ago I discovered that Tuesday is the day to go to the Galleria.  Milos Grill was the last place on my list inside the mall so I waited for today to head over there and avoid any crowds.  Early on in the blog I visited Milo’s Cheesesteaks and Gyros over on Foothills at Pleasant Grove.  I was not sure if this one was related or not.  There is a 3rd Milo’s out in Rocklin too.  I learned tonight from one of the employees that they are all, in fact, related.  Different family members own and operate each one.  The parents and originators opened the Rocklin one, their sons opened this one in the mall and their daughter(s?) opened the other one in Roseville.  They seem to be generally independent of each other aside from that relation.

I headed into the Galleria at about 5:30PM.  It was nice and quiet, not as much as last time though.  Upstairs in the food court, Milo’s Grill is front and center, back to back with Ruby Thai Kitchen in the middle of the court.  I walked up and started going over the menu.  There were a few employees working at the time.  I chatted with one momentarily about cameras and a minute or so later one of the others asked if I had any questions.  The menu is split across three static LCD displays.  The first is gyros, the second hoagies and the third finishes up with vegetarian options, a kids section, sides and desserts.  I asked if the gyros are standalone (and phrased the question to not include the word gyros because I wanted to see how she pronounced them.  Unfortunately she called them sandwiches so the plan failed).  She confirmed that they are sold by themselves and that you can add a side like fries, salad or onion rings.  I then asked how big they were.  She led me down to the other end of the stand (to the far right of the photo) to show me some made up displays of several dishes.  They were decent sized, probably a little larger than one at Daphne’s.  I decided to get a standard beef/lamb gyro and add some seasoned fries.  With a drink this came out to just over $10.

I was handed a pager, similarly to Buckhorn Grill.  This must be standard for many of the Galleria food joints.  I took a seat nearby and waited a short time, about 4 minutes, before the pager went off.  Soon I was back at my table with my tray.  On it was a plate with the gyro and a good amount of fries.  Alongside was several napkins and packets of ketchup.  The gryro was nice and hot, slightly steaming away.  The fries were also hot, so everything was fresh and cooked to order.  The fries seemed to be normal ones, but after looking at their menu again they must have been the seasoned ones because the only other options were cajun and garlic.  Indeed they had a little bit of spice to them, though it was not as visible as the ones from the other Milo’s in Roseville.  They were pretty good both on their own and with ketchup, and they were fairly crisp.

The gyro was packed with meat, hot chili peppers, tomatoes, grilled onions and (I think both based on the flavor and the fuzzy menu when I zoom WAY in on it) Sriracha sauce.  The whole thing is topped with cool and creamy Tzatziki sauce.  This was fantastic from start to finish.  The pita bread was incredibly soft, warm and very tasty even on it’s own.  The beef/lamb blended meat was hot, very juicy and tender.  The combo of hot peppers and Sriracha sauce added a really rich flavor and spice that built over consecutive bites and was simultaneously tempered by the Tzatziki sauce.  It was a great combo.  The further into this gyro the more meat I encountered.  I think it was a pretty good value for $7.

Overall I was quite impressed by this Milo’s.  By the end I had talked with all three employees that I saw and all were very friendly.  I asked before I left which pronunciations of gyros they hear and which one they think is correct.  I was told they get year-oh, ghee-row, guy-row and jai-row, and that they go by guy-row.  I’ve heard them all and have never seen any unanimous agreement on any of them as being correct, which is why I am always curious what the business goes by when I encounter them.  The best explanation I’ve heard is that in Greece it starts with a sound that is a mixture of all three which is not a common sound in the English language, so they are all kind of correct and all accepted.  Now that I’m done with the Galleria eateries (unless I’ve missed one, please let me know in the comments if I have!), I have to say that we have a very solid food offering available in our mall.  There is something for everyone, even with the few chains in there.

Website: http://www.eatatmilos.com (seems outdated)

#104: Daphne’s Greek Cafe

Today for lunch I went to Daphne’s Greek Cafe in the Safeway shopping center at Sierra College and Douglas.  There is one other Daphne’s location on Fairway Drive near Kohl’s.  Aside from these there are a few scattered around the bay area and most of the rest in southern California where they got their start about 20 years ago.  I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve been to a Daphne’s.  I know that I’ve only ever had the basic gyro pita, which is pretty tasty and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like slowly rotating, roasting meats?

That said, other than gyros, Greek cuisine is a bit of a blank spot in my food knowledge.  I had lots of time to examine the menu while a couple in front of me asked the cashier some questions.  The chicken pine nut salad sounded really good (Roasted chicken and mixed greens tossed in pomegranate dressing, topped with pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese) but I wasn’t really in the mood for a salad today.  I think I may come back and check that out sometime soon.  I kind of wanted a gyro but I also wanted to try some other things.  I found the Mix & Match plates where you can choose any two items from fresh-carved gyros, grilled chicken or steak kabobs, falafel or crispy shrimp.  In addition you get to pick two sides (choice of fire-roasted vegetables, tabouli, seasoned rice pilaf, fries, side greek salad, multigrain pita chips and premium hummus [original, roasted red pepper or pesto]).

When I got to the register I asked if the gyros in this mix and match plate was the same as the standard pita and was told that it’s just the meat itself rather than the full pita with the veggies.  This made sense because the plate is only a few bucks extra for a lot more food.  I asked if it came with flatbread or something and he said it comes with slices of pita bread.  With that I ordered the plate, choosing gyros and a chicken kabob.  I asked him if he had any recommendations for the sides.  Rice pilaf, fries, greek salad and roasted red pepper hummus were mentioned.  I’m not big on the traditional Greek salad and fries sounded kind of boring today so I went with the rice and hummus.  Adding a soda brought my total to just over $12.

I walked over to the soda fountains and filled my cup with Pibb.  Just as I was finishing I noticed some extra buttons on one of the modules that I’ve never seen before.  Flavor shots!  There was cherry, vanilla and orange.  I decided to check that out with a refill later.  I took a seat in the decent sized dining room and stuck my little order number card in the holder.  There is a ton of outdoor seating on the side and some out front by a big round fountain.  It was a touch on the chilly side so just about everyone was inside, but I always see lots of people eating out there when the weather is nice.  I thought the salt shaker / pepper grinder combo was pretty neat.  You turn the whole top block with salt to grind the pepper.

Not too long after I sat down, maybe 5 minutes or so, my order was brought out on a square plate and I was given a fork and knife wrapped in a napkin.  Everything looked pretty good so I dug in immediately after taking some photos.  The rice pilaf was really very good.  Hummus scooped up with pita bread was excellent.  I first tried the plain hummus and then took a dab of the roasted red pepper topper.  It added just a little spice but I could see it would be best if I mixed it up.  The chicken kabob tasted pretty good, particularly the veggies, though the chicken was a little dry.  The gyro meat was nicely spiced and very tasty as well, but it too was kind of dry.  Dipping it in the included pita sauce (I have no idea what this is, but man it’s good) helped out a lot.  The sauce is incredibly light and kind of refreshing in a way.  The Pibb was very weak.  It didn’t seem to be out, just a bad syrup mix (they must have taken a page from Panda Express on this).  When I left I gave the vanilla shot a try with it, but it was weak to the point that now all it tasted like was carbonated water with a strong vanilla flavor.  I ended up dumping it later after just a few sips.  Pretty disappointing.

This is the first time I’ve had gyros where it’s dry.  I just talked to someone that told me they don’t like to order the kabobs because they have also experienced dry chicken with those.  If both of these were juicier, and the soda fountains properly set up, than I think this would have been a home run.  The sides were a lot better than I expected.  The service was very good.  The cashier was patient and helpful and the dining room service was good.  Employees were constantly moving through and checking on the customers.  After my food was delivered I was checked on twice and right after I finished and set my napkin on the plate someone came by to take the plate and ask again how everything was.

Website: http://www.daphnesgreekcafe.com