Thursday, August 22, 2019

Food Dudes: Sweet Frog redeems inauthentic Gyro Palace fare


Amanda Keyko ’14 and Christina Mitropoulos ’13


     After spending this past summer together in Greece, we were overly excited to find what we thought to be an authentic Greek restaurant in the Hartford area. Because Christina spends every summer in Athens with her family, she was going to be a tough critic on this West Hartford establishment. Having sampled a medley of gyros from local spots in both Athens and Corinth, we were self-proclaimed gyro connoisse­urs. We walked into Gyro Palace on a Sunday night anxious for a taste of Greece. We expected to find a family-owned restaurant with Mediterranean style interior. Instead, as we walked through the doors, we were engulfed by an eclectic décor and outdated techno music blaring from the speakers. The walls were painted an uninviting red, which were in stark contrast to the shimmery gold pleather chairs. This setting clearly did not bring us to our favorite gyro place on the beach in Corinth. Everything from the neon digital clock to the random works of “art” on the walls brought us further and further away from our local gyro hotspots. Our next disappointment came in the form of the chalkboard menu above the counter. The selection for gyros was limited to chicken and beef. Christina’s γιαγια (grandmother) would be thoroughly disappointed no lamb? As our eyes continued to wander, the menu got more bizarre. Gyro Palace served everything from a Waldorf salad to a Bacon Cheddar Ranch Panini to a fajita burrito. What Greek restaurant serves burritos? Still hopeful for an authentic Greek meal, we ordered the chicken gyro, the Arabian falafel wrap, and a Greek salad to share. There was one young girl working the register and preparing the food, reminiscent of waiting in line at the Cave for lunch. There were only two other tables of diners in the restaurant an older couple sitting in the back and a family with two young children by the entrance. After waiting 20 minutes for our “freshly-prepared” meal, we carried our food on a dinky red cafeteria tray to our table. No silverware was provided for us. We had the fine dining experience of eating off plastic plates and silverware and sipping from Styrofoam cups. We hesitantly peeled away the tin foil to come face to face with our food. We started with Arabian falafel wrap. The wrap was filled with falafel, hummus, “tzatziki”, Romaine lettuce, feta cheese, cucumbers, olives, and tomatoes. The falafel itself was decent enough, probably because the combo sauces (recommended by our chashier) masked the bland taste. The feta was by no means authentic. The amount of lettuce in the wrap was overwhelming, taking away from the overall taste of the wrap. The chicken gyro (if you want to even call it that) was an even bigger disappointment.

     While the chicken was cooked on a classic gyro vertical skewer, it completely lacked flavor. The gyro was stuffed with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, and yet again the “tzatziki” in an unseasoned pita. We barely finished the dish. We both looked at each other and knew that this was not even close in flavor and taste to our beloved gyros and feta fries from the gyro spot by Christina’s γιαγια’s house. We cautiously moved onto our Greek salad. The salad, consisting of Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, olives, green peppers, red onion, feta cheese, and “Greek dressing,” was the only plate served in ceramic dishware. The salad was a far cry from the Greek salads served to us at the local taverna in the village we worked in. Thoroughly disappointed, we couldn’t bring ourselves to even finish the food before us. We looked around to notice our all-in-one Gyro palace employee had disappeared. Had we even wanted to sample some other dishes, we would have probably been left to prepare them ourselves. We left Gyro Palace feeling completely unsatisfied. Still hungry, we ventured a few storefronts down to the new West Harford frozen yogurt spot, Sweet Frog. The vibe was girly, cute, and upbeat in great contrast to our previous setting. There were endless flavors ranging from original tart and cake batter to Maple Bacon donut. The selection of toppings was overwhelming. You could choose anything from fresh fruit to Pop tarts to mini donuts. Christina settled for a mix of cake batter, pecan praline, and chocolate, while Amanda got dulce de leche. Although the add-ons looked tempting, Christina opted out on toppings. Amanda went for mini chocolate chips, whipped cream, and crumbled graham crackers. Sweet Frog is sure to be a Trinity favorite, especially as we move closer to spring weather. Next time you are in West Hartford, skip out on Gyro Palace and definitely make your way to Sweet frog for a sweet treat.

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