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It's All Delicious to Me!

June 22, 2010 - Phyllis Sigal

    Anyone who knows me knows that food is one of my top priorities. When we travel, we travel on our stomach. Going to a new town? We check out the restaurants first. A bad food experience can ruin a trip, or at least deduct points from the overall enjoyment.
    When a new restaurant opens, I'm one of the first to try it.
    So needless to say, when I started seeing the ads in our newspaper that Ambience Catering was offering Greek food on Wednesdays at the Hellenic Center, I was quite pleased, and started a collection of the ads — as a reminder and because a free appetizer is offered if you bring in the ad.
    A sampling of the Ambience Greek offerings proved quite delicious!
    The broiled veggies (with eggplant, red papers, zucchini, topped with feta, capers and spices) was big on flavor and perfectly grilled.
    The rice pilaf was so delicious, I could've eaten a third helping of that! The Greek-style green beans were yummy, and tasted as if they were seasoned with mint. Greek-style chicken breasts were stuffed with saffron-flavored rice, apples, pine nuts and raisins. So good!
    I love spanakopita, and theirs was delicious, as was the borek, which is a cigar-shaped phyllo pastry filled with feta cheese flavored with nutmeg, dill, parsley and mint. Borek is new to my Greek repertoire. Another new taste treat for me was the tiropita, which is a mixture of white cheese baked into phyllo triangles. Love that buttery philo!
    Everything I tasted was delicious.
    Also on the dinner menu are some classic Greek favorites: mousaka, dolmathes and pastitsio, but there are some other interesting items such as pasta with artichokes, roasted potatoes (with lemon, olive oil and herbs), Greek salads, a few beef and lamb dishes, as well as a variety of fish dishes. I can't wait to try the pan fried cod with anchovies, basil and citrus. (Filets marinated in olive oil, peppercorns and orange juice, then fried in the marinade and topped with a lemon and orange sauce flavored with basil and anchovies. My mouth is watering!)
    The chicken with figs and mint sounds delicious as does the roasted leg of lamb.
    And if all that's not enough, there's dessert!
    Apple stuffed with dried fruit; Aegean cheesecake, flavored with thyme and honey; a baklava sundae topped with a warm honey sauce; and some traditional treats such as kanthopita and galaktoboureko.
    The dinner menu prices are SO reasonable: the appetizers are all under $5; entrees range from $5.49 to $7.49; desserts are $2.49 to $4.49.
    Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and dinner is served 4-8 p.m.
    Lunch prices also are very reasonable, ranging from $2.49-$4.99. The lunch menu offers several sandwiches, salads as well as a few of the appetizers mentioned above. A puffed pastry feta and olive tart sounds yummy, as does the balsamic tuna sandwich.
    Barbara Isiminger, owner of Ambience Catering, plans to offer the Greek Wednesdays as long as her customers support the effort.  She's had a wonderful response, with lots of repeat business, she noted.
    She said that she tested hundreds of recipes before deciding on the menu. In fact, they delayed their start date because they hadn't found a chicken recipe they were happy with.
    Diners can eat in or take out the selections. Delivery is available for a $25 order or more.
    The Hellenic Center is located at 2215 Chapline St., Wheeling. To place an order, call 304-233-8192.  


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