John Pappas didn’t know much English when he first arrived on American soil, but he did know the secrets of cooking excellent Greek cuisine. The native Greek passed on his recipes and expert techniques to his son Nicholas, who would go on to open his own Mediterranean restaurant—Greek City Cafe.
Deep in his restaurant’s kitchen, Nicholas and his chefs fold juicy meats and fresh vegetables into a variety of Greek-inspired paninis, wraps, and salads. They layer pitas with juicy slices of shaved lamb and beef before adding dollops of flavorful tzatziki and creamy greek dressing. To craft specialty pizzas, the chefs shower soft pita shells in mixed cheeses, diced tomatoes, and grilled chicken. When discussing these dishes with a reporter from Westchase Patch, Nicholas explained, “We take a mainstream item and put a Greek twist to it. I make them feel comfortable, but when they taste it they realize they've never experienced that flavor.”
In the casual dining room, where sunlight streams onto soft blue and green walls, guests can linger over their last bites of these inventive eats before ordering desserts such as baklava. Countertop seating surrounds a lush olive tree in the center of the room, which was imported from Greece and lives off of sunlight and Greek wine.
Many of the exotic herbs and flavorful spices in the kitchen of Desi Tadka came from India, where tropical trees grow thick with curry leaves and colorful flowers blossom with saffron. The eatery's chefs fold these traditional spices into a sweeping variety of authentic Indian dishes, pulling from recipes indigenous to the province of Punjab. They stir tender morsels of chicken, lamb, and seafood into delicate curries, and garnish aromatic biryani rice dishes with sliced almonds. The chefs bake kebabs and tandoori specialties in a fiery clay oven, along with naan breads stuffed with garlic, chicken, and vegetables.
As chefs oversee the cooking in the kitchen, servers bustle about the dining room. They refill glasses of fine international wines and uncap frosty bottles of imported Indian beers. When taking orders, the servers take note of special dietary concerns, such as an aversion to spicy food or a tendency to transform into a field mouse upon eating any kind of gluten.
The chefs at Skara Mediterranean Grill never stray far from garlic, tahini, olive oil, and other quintessential Greek seasonings. Chilled dips and spreads, such as hummus and tzatziki, and warm appetizers, such as zucchini fritters, kick off meals before waiters bring out rich entrees that include grilled whole red snapper and lobster pasta. As diners sip Greek and Napa wines, they settle into the welcoming dining room, which exudes the essence of the Cyclades Greek Islands and is warmly decorated with some of Zeus's old paintings. Accents of traditional blue and white ignite the room while diners savor imported beers to complement the authentic Mediterranean dining experience.
Aromas of European grain-filtered coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice mingle with the hearty scent of buckwheat pancakes cooking on Eggstyle’s griddles. Behind a full juice bar, fruit tenders blend yogurt-infused smoothies with fresh peaches, oranges, and pineapples and pour a warm selection of coffee and tea drinks. Chefs stuff thin crepes, prepared fresh daily, with cream cheese and raspberry coulis or brie and pears while crowning nine different types of benedict with housemade hollandaise sauce. Every Monday–Friday, a lunch menu helps field orders for busy office workers and diners who took too long to decide what to order for breakfast.
While it takes prodigious skill to man the 600-degree, 7-foot grill that is the center of bd’s Mongolian Grill’s dining room, the chefs running it don’t have any secret recipes. Instead, customers fashion their own customizable bowls of stir-fry according to their taste preferences, dietary restrictions, and desired portion size. Guests wander, nearly overwhelmed as they choose from an array of meats and veggies and ladle sweet, spicy, and herb-filled sauces into a cup. Chefs sauté the meal in front of their eyes, swords flicking skillfully across the grill to entertain and build anticipation like a mime about to jump buses on an invisible motorcycle. The resulting stir-fry dishes are accompanied by brown rice, white rice, tortillas or lettuce wraps.
The menu at City Fish Seafood Grill & Chophouse reads like an edible atlas. The The chefs here source fresh salmon from the Atlantic, seabass from Chili, and lobsters from Maine. And the preparations are just as global as the proteins: shellfish-laden paella evokes the eateries of Spain, while beer-battered fish 'n' chips pays tribute to England's famous tartar sauce springs. International flavors also accent sushi selections, from classic tuna and California rolls to the cajun-inspired Bubba Gump, loaded with fried Louisiana crawfish, mango, and cream cheese.
Globe-trotting flair can be found behind the bar as well. Bartenders pour sake, and uncork wines from Italy and New Zealand. Imported spirits are shaken, stirred, and siphoned into specialty cocktails such as the Snickers martini, accented with caramel vodka and amaretto. On weekends, bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys accompany hearty brunch spreads of omelets and french toast.