After last year’s little anniversary endeavor (you can read more about that here), I decided this year it was all about the food first and foremost (rather than a few drinks first and assuming we’d find gluten friendly food later in the evening). I’m always on the lookout for a good deal so had purchased a Groupon for Athena Greek Cuisine Restaurant in Scottsdale.
Growing up, my parents were friends with a Greek family that owned a restaurant so we went there often to enjoy the food. All these years later, a tradition when I go home to visit is slouvaki on the grill, so I was excited to see what Athena had to offer. I had called ahead to make sure they could accommodate my needs and was told it was no problem – that there were plenty of options to select from.
My usual complaint about a restaurant not having a gluten sensitive menu applies here, but our server was very friendly and accommodating. She asked the kitchen numerous questions and we reviewed the various items that should be acceptable. We finally decided to start with the Village Salad including tomatoes, onion, kalamata olives, feta and cucumber in a vinaigrette (heavenly).
I was disappointed the slouvaki was not considered “safe.” There seemed to be some reluctance over the marinade so I opted not to take my chances. I was directed to the broiled chicken breast twice. I’m sure it’s delicious, but I wasn’t having chicken breast at a Greek restaurant. We finally decided on the Shrimp Athena (shrimp with feta cheese in a tomato sauce) and the Dolmades Avgolemono (lamb meat wrapped in grape leaves) to share. I did request verification the shrimp dish and Dolmades did not contain gluten: the tomato feta sauce was deemed to be fine and the Dolmades did not contain bread crumbs. However, we switched out the egg-lemon sauce, which contains flour, for gluten free Tzatziki.
The shrimp unexpectedly arrived on a bed of rice. I had asked about the rice when I called and was told they made their chicken stock in house so it was safe. I smartly asked our server to confirm that. Luckily for me I was still working on my salad. She returned and said the rice was made with a chicken stock mix and I should not have it. She had the dish quickly re-prepared sans rice.
The Dolmades were full of flavor and a treat. I often buy Dolmades in the deli section at the grocery, but these of course were more intense and authentic. The revamped Shrimp Athena also had wonderful zest and was worth the extra few minute wait for them to get it right.
As always, a gluten sensitive menu would be helpful for all involved, but thank you to Athena’s for accommodating me and for a fabulous anniversary dinner. We really enjoyed going somewhere different and experiencing some uncommon flavors for our special night.
Oh – we chose to pass on dessert (I didn’t bother to ask as I’m pretty sure they didn’t have gluten free baklava – sadly), but their Greek coffee is AMAZING. I’m not even a huge coffee drinker, but that is the best coffee I’ve had since Italy circa 2006!