Mykonos lends Towson its own brand of ethnic authenticity, flavor

RESTAURANTS

October 15, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Restaurant Critic

Now that Towson has developed a reputation as a happening place, so to speak, what with all the jazzy chains and cafes and coffee bars that have opened up there, it's easy to forget the few homey, family-run restaurants scattered along York Road. Places like the Greek restaurant Mykonos.

Mykonos has a lot of competition in the Baltimore area. When you feel like spanakopita or stuffed grape leaves, Towson

doesn't immediately come to mind. It's hard to beat the ethnic authenticity of the places in Highlandtown and Fells Point, or the waterfront atmosphere of the Taverna Athena at the harbor.

But you can't say you don't get atmosphere at Mykonos. You have your fishnets. You have your Greek columns. You have your blue floodlights and grapevines and fountains. You have, yes, your windmills.

And you have an ambitious menu ranging from "paella a la Greek" to Mykonos surf and turf (broiled lamb chops and fried squid).

The first courses for the most part feature the tried and true,

which the kitchen does pretty well. Stuffed grape leaves were plump with rice and ground beef, with a distinct edge of fresh mint and a tangy egg-lemon sauce. Two large spinach pies were a nice balance of spinach and feta cheese in flaky phyllo pastry. Egg-lemon soup was flavorful and comforting on a chilly fall evening.

For a main course, the kitchen takes small pieces of lamb, sautees them in butter and mixes them with chopped artichoke hearts, Greek olives and feta. This tantalizing mixture is wrapped in phyllo and baked so the crust is gold, crisp and flaky. To gild the lily, Mykonos spoons egg-lemon sauce over it. The result is exohiko, lamb-artichoke pie. It's served with half a boiled potato (ugh) and an excellent mixture of sauteed red peppers, onions, eggplant and matchstick carrots.

Just when I began thinking this restaurant was a find, I tried the seafood special of the evening, flounder stuffed Greek style, and found the fish wasn't as perfectly fresh as it could have been. I also thought stuffing the filet with feta, tomatoes and olives was doing too much to it.

Along more traditional lines, Mykonos' pastitsio was a sturdy combination of macaroni, ground beef and Greek tomato sauce covered with a thin layer of bechamel. Served with that boiled potato on the side. The fish came with a salad as well as the potato and vegetable, so we got to try Mykonos' Greek salad, absolutely indistinguishable from any other Greek restaurant's version in the area. Desserts are limited to baklava (which had seen better days) and Greek rice pudding, with the greater part of a tin of cinnamon on top.

Although the end of our meal was disappointing, I liked most of the food at Mykonos -- particularly those vegetables and the lamb-artichoke pie. But the place was deserted the night we were there, so it lacked the sort of Never-on-Sunday festive air that makes eating at Greek restaurants particularly fun.

Mykonos

Where: 408 York Road

Hours: Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Credit cards accepted: MC, V

Features: Greek and Continental food

Non-smoking section? Yes

Call: (410) 296-1323

Prices: appetizers, $2.75-$5.95, entrees, $7.95-$15.95

** 1/2

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