Grapevine Cuisine, Downingtown, PA – A Review

by artfuldiner on February 15, 2019

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Pennsylvania, Review, Wining and Dining

Grapevine Cuisine

84 West Lancaster Avenue

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

(610) 269-1304

http://grapevinecuisine.com/

Tucked away behind Rita’s Italian Ice at the corner of West Lancaster and Viaduct Avenues, Grapevine Cuisine isn’t all that easy to find – but it is most assuredly worth the effort.

Grapevine Cuisine - InteriorOwned by Dimitrios Papaioannou, and lovingly presided over by members of his family, this charming BYOB eatery is about as authentic as it gets. The traditional Greek meals are made from scratch, the portions are generous to a fault and the prices, given the overall quality of the cuisine, are exceedingly low. Combine this with ultra-personal service and an enchanting Old-World ambiance – the pictures on the website don’t do it proper justice, by the way – and you have a recipe for a homey restaurant that’s rarely found outside of Greece.

Grapevine Cuisine - Veggie SamplerIf you really want to get an idea of what the kitchen can do, the way to start things off is clearly with the incomparable Veggie Sampler (pictured) for two or more. Some of the usual suspects are here – olives, pepperoncini, and stuffed grapes leaves, for example – but the real gems are the not-to-be-missed veggie balls, spanakopita, and an utterly addictive eggplant dip… And those veggie balls, in my opinion, are the star of the show. A mixture of shredded zucchini, spinach and onions, they’re spruced up with a blend of house spices and sided by a special dipping sauce and triangles of pita bread. As an added incentive, those delicious veggie balls may also be reincarnated as a Veggie Burger, companioned by lettuce and tomato on homemade bread.

Other appetizer options include Greek Meatballs made with a combo of house spices and stuffed with feta cheese; Bean Salad, butter beans topped with olive oil, parsley, and chopped onions; and the Unforgettable, sliced baked potatoes topped with butter, three cheeses, and finished in the oven.

Grapevine Cuisine - Greek Salad, LargeOn the other hand, if you have a diminutive appetite, you would do well to consider the fact that all entrées come with either a garden salad or cup of soup of the day. You may also substitute a Greek salad for $1.40 extra or an authentic Greek salad or bowl of soup for an additional $1.80. In case you’re wondering, Greek salad has lettuce; an authentic Greek salad (pictured as an entrée portion) does not. The soup options include a so-so Greek chicken soup and a highly flavorful vegetarian bean soup.

As you move on to the entrées, possibilities abound. There are various renditions of chicken, lamb and pork, as well as several pasta and seafood items, a mixed grille that may be plated for two or four, and a slew of excellent vegetarian dishes.

Grapevine Cuisine - PastitioThe Moussaka, a traditional Greek favorite, incorporates layers of tender eggplant, as well potatoes, crushed tomatoes, ground beef, bechamel sauce and a topping of tomato sauce and grated parmesan. Pastitio (pictured), a variation on the Moussaka theme, hosts many of the same ingredients, but with a pasta foundation. Both are highly recommended… And should you have trouble making up your mind, try the Diplo, the two favorite dishes in one presentation.

Several other eggplant-based arrangements deserve mention. The first is the Papoutsaki, a grilled eggplant that is hollowed out and then stuffed with ground beef & tomato sauce and topped with bechamel & parmesan cheese. But even better, in my opinion, is the Hellenic Eggplant, a tasty vegetarian option, the Greek version of eggplant parmesan. Tender layers of grilled eggplant are slathered with tomato sauce and then crowned with melted feta cheese rather than parmesan.

Grapevine Cuisine - Greek Roast LambThe Greek Roast Lamb, a staple on Mediterranean menus, is excellent here. Strips of boneless leg of lamb are splashed with a natural jus, topped with melted feta, and aided & abetted by a bevy of roasted potatoes. The meat is absolutely fork tender and simple bursting with flavor. If you enjoy lamb, as I do, this is one dish that you will not want to miss.

Desserts, baked up daily by Grapevine’s pastry chef, should not be overlooked.  Possibilities include Rice Pudding made from an old family recipe; Coconut Revani, yellow cake filled and topped with flakes of coconut and syrup; Kourampiedes, Greek cookies covered with powdered sugar; and the Galaktobouriko, filo dough filled with a rich semolina custard.

Grapevine Cuisine - Baklava… But the Baklava should certainly be your first choice. It may not look like much, but the proof of the pudding, as Cervantes so astutely noted, is in the eating. The filo dough is marvelously flaky, the ground walnut filling perfectly textured, and the syrup just sweet enough. Spot-on.

Prices, as I mentioned at the outset, are extremely reasonable. At $35.20, the enormous lamb shank is the most expensive item on the printed menu… but a majority of the entrées are in the mid-teens, topping out in the low- to mid-twenties. Sandwiches all hover around the ten-dollar mark; and there are no desserts over five dollars. Also bear in mind that portions are more than generous, so you’re not likely to go hungry here… And as Mr. Papaioannou points out on the restaurant’s website, although you come in as a customer… by the end of the evening, you’re likely to leave as a friend.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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