Papouli's Greek Grill has won fans since its opening several years ago for its simple yet savory Greek fare, ranging from dolmas, or stuffed grape leaves, to its creamy, eggplant-filled moussaka.
A recent lunch visit to the original Forum location showed that all was well in the kitchen in terms of freshness and flavor -- and swiftness of service. Though the restaurant was full when we entered, our order at the counter was taken as quickly as possible, and the food appeared in a reasonable amount of time once we sat down.
A cup of Gypsy lentil soup topped with a sprinkle of feta cheese was a great way to begin the meal. Even in these hotter-than-hot days of late, a touch of warm soup can be welcome, especially one enlivened with a good sweet onion base and plenty of hearty lentils.
If you'd rather go with something cooler, try the Greek salad with its tart, oregano-seasoned dressing and crisp iceberg lettuce tossed with kalamata olives, peppers and tomato.
The Greco-Roman sandwich was stuffed with plenty of crispy-edged gyro meat (a combination of beef and lamb) and topped with a generous helping of garlicky tzatziki sauce. Wrapped around it was a warm, fluffy pita.
A friend scoffed when I ordered the Papouli burger, also wrapped in a pita. But one bite silenced him, thanks to the tangy feta cheese crumbles and acidic tomato slices that gave the burger an extra kick. This isn't merely a dish for those who refuse to eat something more traditional; it's a winner in its own right.
The falafel sandwich also earned praise for its well-seasoned garbanzo bean patties, but not as much as the fries that accompanied each of the sandwiches. The thick strips of potato were crisp and not greasy in the least, merely full of solid potato flavor. They disappeared quickly.
The only complaint the whole meal was reserved for the underwhelming couscous that was curiously bland when compared with the richness of the rest of the meal.
It's easy to see why Papouli's keeps people coming back for more. Our good impression of the Forum has been bolstered by more than a few enjoyable meals at the Huebner location.
By the way, if you're pinching pennies, study the menu closely and you'll find several bargains. During lunch, for example, you can get a small side and a drink for $3 added on to the price of your sandwich. A cup of soup by itself costs more than that.
Papouli's Greek Grill
8250 Agora Parkway
11224 Huebner Road