By Lee Barrie and Cindy Kurman
Story originally appeared in StreetWise
All you have to say is “Greek Chicken” and visions of Athenian Room dance in our heads. We’ve never met a harder working team than the folks at Athenian Room, who serve up fresh and tasty Greek cuisine to a steady stream of loyal customers. This venerable Greek restaurant at the corner of N. Halsted and W. Webster caters to a wide demographic—from its affluent neighbors nearby to budget-conscious DePaul students—simply because it does what a great neighborhood eatery should do—serve memorably delicious food at a very reasonable price so that patrons will come back frequently. The décor, with tiled floors and Greek-styled brick and stucco walls, is comfortable and unpretentious.
A neighborhood spot should also offer great take-out service and Athenian Room is as busy with take-out as it is with dine-in customers. They know their customers and treat them as part of the family.
Athenian Room’s signature dish is the Chicken Kalamata Style, served with a Greek Salad and to-die-for Greek fries (steak fries soaked in a special herbed vinegar sauce). A half chicken is seasoned and broiled and served piping hot. We’ve eaten this dish dozens of times and we’ll never get tired of it. Never. When we get it to go, the aroma from the bag practically begs us to dig in before we arrive home. You’d be surprised how many times we’ve savored our chicken at home while indulging in a great episode of Law and Order or CSI, with our dog begging for a chicken morsel or two.
It would be unfair to talk only about the chicken. The menu offers a nice selection of Greek specialties with great burgers thrown in for good measure. For starters, you can choose from such delights as the Taramosalta (Greek caviar) or the Spanakopita (spinach pie in phyllo dough, and the traditional chicken lemon-rice soup.
The salad selections are fresh and delectable. The specialty is the Greek Salad (large or small) with a wonderfully herbed oil and vinegar dressing. You can also order a large salad with tuna, with chicken breast shish kabob or gyros.
If you’re in a sandwich mood, the Athenian Room offers juicy Gyros (pronounced yeer-ose) with or without cheese, served in pita bread, or several versions of a Shish Kabob sandwich such as chicken breast, cheese chicken breast, pork tenderloin and cheese pork tenderloin. Don’t forget to order the Greek fries on the side. The Charburgers can be ordered with American or Feta cheese. They are served with the Greek fries, lettuce, onion, tomato and pickle.
Main courses are grouped into Kalamata style and Athenian style. The Kalamata dinners are similar to the sandwiches, but the portions are larger. All of the dinners are served with Greek fries, pita, tomatoes, onions and Greek Tzatziki sauce (yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil and herbs). The Athenian dinners include the Greek Chicken, a tender Skirt Steak Alexander Style and Chicken with Bar-B-Que Sauce.
If you have room for dessert the Baklava is a freshly made treat.
The Athenian Room features a spacious, dog-friendly outdoor seating area in the warm weather. Parking can be a challenge but valet parking is available.
Don’t wait too long to join the throng of Athenian Room regulars. Ah, the aroma!
Note: DineWise is a weekly column appearing in StreetWise magazine. Lee Barrie is on the StreetWise board of directors and he and his wife Cindy own Kurman Communications, a Chicago-based public relations agency specializing in lifestyle, restaurant and hospitality strategic branding, marketing promotions, media relations and social networking. If you'd like your restaurant to be featured on the DineWise blog and in StreetWise magazine, please contact DineWise@kurman.com.
DineWise is a weekly dining feature exploring the Chicago restaurant scene appearing in StreetWise, a general interest magazine with a gritty "from the streets perspective" giving insight to its readers on what is really going on in Chicago. StreetWise.org is a social enterprise designed to help severely impoverished men and women out of poverty.
By using vendors as the distribution mechanism, we are able to personalize the face of poverty and create income for the vendor.
DineWise is written by Lee Barrie and Cindy Kurman Barrie. Lee serves on the board of StreetWise and together, Lee and Cindy run Kurman Communications, Inc., a leader in lifestyle public relations, media relations, promotions, events and social networking, based in Chicago and serving businesses and individuals throughout the U.S. The Barrie's can be reached at DineWise@Kurman.com or follow us on Twitter @DineWise