Monday, February 13, 2006

Great Goat at the Great Greek

"I had to go to Greek school, where I learned valuable lessons such as, ‘If Nick has one goat and Maria has nine, how soon will they marry?’"
-Toula Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Alexander the Great Greek is a restaurant on Sage near the Galleria that serves outstanding Greek food. It also has a lot of culture and atmosphere. On a visit last weekend, my seven-year-old daughter discovered belly dancing, and I discovered the Great Goat.

Several weeks ago, my family first visited Alexander on a sleepy Sunday evening. A matronly Greek woman who seemed to run the place immediately fell in love with my daughter. They sat, they talked, they drew pictures. The meal began with some very good pita bread with olive oil, olives, and feta cheese. I ordered a braised lamb shank that was tender and had lots of flavor. We ordered a Greek wine from Nemea that was made from unique Greek grape, had an interesting flavor, and was a good value. It was a quiet evening with good company and good food.

This past Saturday, however, Alexander was packed. A Greek music duo played synthesizer with accordian sounds and a bouzouki -- a Greek stringed instrument. After being seated, we waited an hour for menus, but we did not care. The music was lively and various diners frequently jumped up to dance. Then, the older, bald bazouki player announced that it was time for the belly dancers. My daughter's eyes grew wide as two beautiful women began dancing. A few songs later, two men began traditional Greek dancing. During one song, the women dancers came, grabbed my daughter, and took her to the stage. She tried dancing while shaking her tummy for at least 10 minutes. For the next song, the dancers grabbed various customers to form a big dance line. My daughter missed that part; she had to go to the restroom to throw up.

My college friends had a name for this type of behavior: "Party Hero / Party Goat."

Appropriately, I ordered the goat. Goat is one of my favorite meats because it has so much more flavor than beef, pork, or chicken. But it can be tough and stringy. This goat had been braised for a long time in a salty broth and was as tender as the best pot roast. It also had some interesting spices that I could not identify. Ths spicing did not compete with the flavor of the goat; it accented it. I have had some great goat dishes in Pakistani and Mexican restaurants, but this goat may have been the greatest.

For a quiet evening with authentic Greek food, go to Alexander the Great Greek on a weeknight. For a raucus, long evening with lots of music, dancing and revelry, go to Alexander on a Saturday night. Either way, make sure you try the goat.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Thanks for the review!

We live in Austin, but take weekend trips to Houston fairly often to visit family. At night, the three of us (husband and 5 year old daughter) like to try new restaurants. This one sounds perfect, as there aren't many fun Greek restaurants in Austin. The last time my daughter got to belly dance at a restaurant was at the Moroccan place at Disney World. We're really looking forward to Alexander The Greek.