Greek to me
Blue Plate, on the south side of genteel California Avenue, has one of the slickest locations and layouts of any restaurant I’ve reviewed. It’s one of the classic brick former residences that dominate the stretch of businesses extending west from Virginia Street before to Arlington Avenue, offering proximity to downtown without the crowded fuss of casino row.
On a weekday, my husband and I managed street parking and beat what turned out to be a real lunch rush by about 20 minutes. I suspect the place has locked in a faithful set of regulars from the Bank of America building and similar ilk within walking distance. The weather was great, and we made the most of the covered outdoor seating, although some fool apparently thought Blue Plate’s patrons needed, between bites of Pastitsio ($6.95), to reflect on how tough he was, so we had to endure the visual foible of graffiti on an adjacent building. But our server was as quick and friendly as the semi-domesticated bird that dropped in every few minutes in the hope of scoring crumbs.
The dainty tiropita and spanakopita appetizers ($5.50 apiece) were good enough but unsubstantial. Baked Phyllo bread with feta, or feta and spinach, is a pretty sure bet, but in such diminutive quantities, not so much, especially for a woman competing with a quick-fingered spouse who skipped breakfast.
Entrées were also a mixed picture. On the one hand, my husband’s “Pat” salad ($8.50) was genuinely delicious. The menu explains that “we couldn’t decide whether this was a salad or a mein [sic—pun presumably intended] course, so we decided to name it Pat.” He declined the chicken—no worries from the kitchen—that normally accompanies the noodles and vegetables. Still, the flavor blend of sweet and spicy peanut sauce was excellent, and I repeatedly bilked forkfuls from his bowl.
Part of the problem was that I preferred his dish to my Great Greek salad ($8.50). The vinegar-and-oil dressing could pass as good, and all the listed ingredients—including tomatoes, onions, feta and kalamata olives—were present, but were swamped by the iceberg lettuce. I’m more of a flavor freak than the targets of this creation. As with the appetizers, the whole light-dining premise didn’t hit me right.
Nonetheless, I’d be interested to know the story behind Blue Plate’s unique culinary motif: Greek-Chinese fusion. I assume some of the specialties we had are among those featured on Greek Night, but there is also an array of Asian-themed alternatives, including appetizers, such as the Szechuan chicken dumplings ($5.50) and spring rolls ($4.25), and entrées like the Kung Pao chicken ($8.25) or the Mein Dish ($7.25 with chicken or pork).
I suspect a lot of these are very, very good, based on my husband’s Pat Salad and the establishment’s ongoing success after 13 years in business. With a great location and dynamite service, Blue Plate has clearly found a market for its selective, eccentric menu.