George's Greek Café on Pine Ave. in downtown Long Beach is popular among LB-based Hounds, and the Loizides family recently opened a Belmont Shore branch in the old Malvasia space. I went there with three others this past Saturday night, and I wanted to briefly give my impressions.
This place was a huge hit with my party.
Other than the addition of a white trellis at the entrance, the décor of the space has been basically unchanged from Malvasia. No problem, since the former eatery was Mediterranean-focused as well. A good sign: The place was packed. However, we had a three-minute wait while they set up a table on the mezzanine level overlooking the main room.
Service was warm and capable and didn't try to give us the bum's rush at every turn. Every time the servers would flambé a plate of saganaki, a cry of "Opa!" went up (well, they yelled "Opa!" when a plate fell too, but whatcha gonna do?). We ordered a bottle of a Greek red "Grand Reserve"-- the winery's name escapes me, but it was a typical Mediterranean table wine, not very big, lots of currant in the bouquet. It went well with everything, and was cheap ($37 a bottle).
Appetizer: Combo Dip. A plate with little helpings of tzantziki (yogurt & cucumber), scordalia (garlic), taramosalata (red caviar and potato), humus (garbanzo and tahini) and melintzanosalata (eggplant), surrounded by pita triangles. This was happily devoured by everyone-- all the dips were great. And vampires would leave us all alone the rest of the weekend.
One of our party ordered the avgolemono soup and the Greek Salad. I got a taste of the soup, and it was delicious, but I'm sure it's an acquired taste for many. The Greek salad didn't stray from the typical formula (Romaine and salad fixings with Greek dressing and feta), and we all got a little salad on the side; it was just fine.
Main courses? One of us got the chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta. She loved it and raved about it the rest of the evening. Another got the chicken gyro plate and thought it was great. I got the kleftiko special-- slow-roasted lamb with potatoes. Awesome. The lamb melted in my mouth, and the flavor was superb. Perfect combination of meat, root vegetables and herbs. Highly recommended.
No dessert or coffee; we were all too stuffed.
We got out for $100 all in, tip included. We also got out before the belly dancer-- and I wish we had waited around a bit to see her. Oh well....
What can I say? It's not a cutting-edge joint. It doesn't pretend to be part of any Restaurant Scene. It just serves good food in a comfortable space. I'm delighted to have George's in Belmont Shore.
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