Dimitri's serves the tastes of Greektown in Ellicott City setting

MATTERS OF TASTE

January 02, 1992|By Mary Maushad

You want good Greek food? Then go to Greektown.

Or . . . to 2205 Frederick Road in Ellicott City, where you'll find Dimitri's.

Little about its appearance -- partly suburban and partly down-home -- is reminiscent of Greektown. Most Eastern Avenue Greek restaurants, after all, don't have a bar with a pool table in the next room where a flannel-shirted crowd can pick from six shooters du' jour (including one called ''Sex on the Beach'') and listen to live country music.

Concentrate your senses on the food, however, any you'll leave thinking this place could hold its own with many in Greektown. Not with the best, but with many.

We began -- after two of the cheapest, most generous mixed drinks we could remember -- with Spanakopita and Stuffed Grapevine Leaves (each $3.95).

The spinach and feta pie was good -- crispy and flavorful, seconds from the oven -- but the six large grape leaves stuffed with cold, seasoned rice were better. They were hearty and firm, with a superb oil-based dressing.

Unfortunately, like so many other restaurants, Dimitri's applies the tag-team approach to servers. One person takes your order; various others bring plates to your table; someone else takes the check. This can be a recipe for sloppy service -- at least sloppier than if diners deal with the same server throughout the meal.

Before our Spanakopita and Stuffed Grapevine Leaves arrived, we were served a huge plate of Spanakorizo (spinach and rice). As we weren't yet ready to begin eating, it was a couple of minutes before we noticed the error. At the same time, the couple at the next table asked where their Spanakorizo was. We knew.

On the bright side, that was the only service blip of the evening. Our multiple servers were pleasant and efficient.

Dimitri's ''Famous Greek Salad'' comes with practically every entree. We have high standards for Greek Salad. They were established over many Sunday nights at the long-gone Mount Vernon on Charles Street. My husband was pleased with Dimitri's salad. I found it a little pungent. But I agreed that the salad was large, fresh, attractive and covered with feta. So, perhaps, what's a few herbs between friends?

My Seafood Casserole ($13.95) -- more like a platter -- had a large crab cake, several shrimp and scallops and a piece of whitefish covered with a lemon and wine sauce in a casserole dish. Also on the platter were a dish of cole slaw and a dish of Spanakorizo. Huge would be an understatement, especially considering that entrees also come with good oregano-laden garlic bread.

My husband's Moussaka Platter ($11.95) paled in comparison. The moussaka was an unusually small portion and had only one side dish, the Spanakorizo.

The tastes were more equal than the portion sizes. Nearly everything was very good, especially the moussaka. My husband said that it was some of the best he had ever had and that it was unusually solid.

The crab cake didn't have a lot of flavor and the spinach and rice, served for some reason in tomato sauce, was nearly tasteless. Overall, though, we were pleased with our meal.

Even more so when dessert came. The Baklava ($2.25) was delightfully dense, richer than rich, homey and soothing. The Rice Pudding ($1.95) was among the creamiest ever to pass our lips. We could easily have let a few more orders pass that way, too.

Most of what we ate could have been served in Greektown. The spinach and rice probably would not have been, at least not with canned-tasting spinach and an intrusive tomato sauce. And the crab cake probably would have been tastier.

But then, hey, how many Greektown restaurants come with live country music past the swinging door?

** 1/2

Dimitri's

Frederick Road,

Catonsville

747-1927

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Light fare served in the bar Monday and Tuesday.

Reservations: Recommended on weekends.

Credit cards: Major credit cards accepted.

Handicapped access: Limited access.

Smoking: No separate areas designated.

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