The Greek Garden
321 S. Main St.
419-422-0808 | Thegreekgarden.com
Hours: 11am-8pm Monday-Thursday |
11am-9pn Friday-Saturday | closed Sunday
Facebook under “The Greek Garden”
Takeout and catering available
Every time I figured out what I was eating at The Greek Garden, a new, exciting plate found its way to the table.
All it took was a confession to our waiter that we knew close to nothing about Greek food, and delicious, new surprises arrived again and again. In the midst of this fun, Head Chef Stephen Quickly even invited us from our outdoor seats inside to see him light our Saganaki (fried cheese) on fire. Opah!
It was a night – and a meal – of thrills.
“We shoot for a uniqueness, being off the beaten path,” explained Greek Garden Owner Beau Thompson. “There are no boundaries for what we can do. We pride ourselves on being different.”
Between the delicious, ethnic food made from scratch; the outdoor alley seating that makes you feel like you’re somewhere exotic; the cheeky decor inside; the fun-loving spirit of wait staff and chefs; and the “speakeasy” open in the winter with a 110-year-old piano used for regular performances; I’d say they’ve nailed it.
The Greek Garden has been a staple of Findlay for 31 years. Thompson, who worked for the previous owner and is part Greek, has owned the restaurant for nearly 8 years. This is the third season for outdoor seating and the second for the alley, which features colorful tables for dining in sun or shade, a tiki hut bar area, a fire pit, twinkling white lights strung overhead, Greek statues, and live music Wednesday through Saturday in the evening. Outdoor seating will be open until late September or mid-October.
“This can be great place for kids,” said Keith Rasnake, our waiter and floor manager of the restaurant, “but it’s also great to come without the kids, when mom and dad need a night out.”
There’s no doubt my husband and I will try The Greek Garden outside without the kids before the summer is over, but one reason this night was so much fun was the experience my 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter had along with us.
Both ordered chicken strips and fries for their main meal, but they sampled many of the surprise dishes that came our way prior to that. Some they liked, some they didn’t, but they gave it a shot. Their little faces lit up (literally!) seeing our cheese appetizer on fire, and they enjoyed the outdoor seating as well as the enthusiasm of the staff.
The Dishes that Just Kept Coming
The first item we sampled was an appetizer Greek Garden Hummus with vegetables, a Mediterranean bean dip of signature spices, onion, tomato, and cucumber, served with pita bread. Everything we tried was wonderful, but this dish was my favorite.
I have had my share of hummus – this was off-the-charts-delightful in its flavorful, creamy glory. Combined with the utter freshness of the veggies that burst in your mouth and the pita bread, it was heavenly. Chef Quickly said the eatery’s pita bread is special because of a “secret trick” they use. Indeed.
Next we tried Saganaki, the melted cheese lit and served on a hot plate, with a squeeze of lemon and served with pita bread. My son remarked this tasted like pizza and enjoyed it. My husband liked that the cheese was warm and gooey toward the middle, and a little crusty toward the edges. The lemon, he said, also gave it a unique, nice taste.
The Greek Sampler arrived next, featuring gyro meat (80 percent beef and 20 percent lamb), generous hunks of feta cheese, pita, and tzatziki (Greek cucumber and yogurt) sauce. Oh, how I love tzatziki sauce! This combination of tastes – again – was a new delight, between the peppery meat, the sauce I now adore, and the creamy feta, it’s a unique taste I’ll not soon forget. When my son sampled the gyro meat, he produced one of my favorite observations of the night: “Whatever this is, it’s great!”
We were getting full, but asked our new friends to choose a main dish that my husband and I would share…and out comes New Zealand Style Lamb Rack. Really?
“Rack of Lamb,” makes me think of cartoons from when I was a kid, those weird white booties on the tips of the bone and people sweating because such a dish ranked at the pinnacle of difficulty in the kitchen. Needless to say, I have never had it.
This, they said, was the last week of lambing season and therefore our last chance to sample it at its finest and freshest. It was served with Greek rice flavored with 42 spices, yet no salt (another marvel in my opinion), mini potatoes, green beans and carrots.
Beau Thompson said his life’s motto is, “Motion creates emotion,” apparent at his restaurant, a continually evolving experience. The evening we ate at The Greek Garden, I woke in the middle of the night and realized I had actually been dreaming about it – evidence this flurry of fun and great tastes left quite an impression.
Need I say more?
The Short Course
To avoid wait: Make a reservation or come at an off time. Busiest from 11:30am-1pm and Friday nights
Noise level: Moderate
High chairs: Yes, and booster seats
Got milk? yes
Kids’ menu: Yes, nice Greek option, plus American fare
Food allergy concerns? Let your server know right away. Owner Beau Thompson said they will do their best to accommodate.