Sunday, October 12, 2008

Scope Some Gyros

I always feel good about myself when I discover a top-quality, hole-in-the-wall eating joint. I found one recently when a rain squall drove me indoors while I was walking between my bank and the grocery store where I had parked my car. It was a tiny, family-owned shop called the Gyro Company, at 7240 Gravois Rd. in St. Louis city, on the corner of Allemania Ave., about a block northeast of the corner where Hampton and Germania meet at Gravois.

I had a nice gyro there, but I wasn't sure that was enough to base a food review on, so I went back a few days ago and had a "gyro supreme." It was as exceptional as their regular gyro: succulent, pressed beef with just the right amount of crispiness from being fired up on a vertical rotisserie, folded into a piece of soft flatbread, and topped with onions, lettuce, and that tart, yogurt-and-cucumber concoction that I love - tsatsike, or zaziki sauce, depending on whose spelling you go by. The "supreme" gyro adds tomatoes and the clincher, feta cheese. I salivate thinking of it.

I have had decent gyros at many places, but for a little corner shop that serves its food in a plastic basket, the Gyro Company does an exceptional job. They have a few wrinkles in their operation - for example, they let their soda fountain run out of carbon dioxide, so the only drinks you could get for several days were canned soda and bottled water. But they really know how to carve that juicy, crispy meat off the turntable and serve it on soft, delicious bread, with equally good stuff on top. They also serve spanakopita (a flaky pastry number with spinach in it), baklavas (the same pastry, only filled with nuts and enough honey to knock out a Pooh bear), various cakes and custards, and my latest serendipitous discovery: doner kebabs.

D.K.'s, as the Gyro Company makes them, contain pretty much the same stuff that comes on a gyro supreme. But, instead of folding it into a pice of flat bread, they slice a pocket into a slightly-less-flat disk of raised bread and stuff the fillings inside. The bread was so soft it had to be fresh, and it had a wonderful, sweetish, hand-made taste. It was all that a gyro supreme is, except perhaps bigger and better. Truly, my taste adventures have just begun if that was really my first doner kebab. But if you haven't ventured to try one, I would recommend it. On my last visit, I brought a friend, who tried the gyro supreme, the doner kebab, and the baklava, and who repeatedly seconded my opinion that the Gyro Company serves great food.

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