“Samos”, a popular well-regarded mainstay in “Greek Town”, opened its first outpost location, “Samos Greek Island Grill”, in Oct/2013 in a recently opened shopping center on Boston Street. The new “Canton Crossing” shopping center is a bit of an urban anomaly. It’s as if a suburban strip mall – complete with “big box” stores like Target, Michael’s, Old Navy and an upscale Harris Teeter grocery store – had been magically replicated at the base of Brewer’s Hill within sight of the iconic neon Natty Boh sign and Route 95. Located in a small, high ceilinged corner with window walls on two sides facing yellow and turquoise walls with nondescript abstract art and a dozen sparkly black topped tables, the new “Samos Greek Island Grill” appears like it could as easily be a contemporary coffee or fast food joint.
While you’d never guess it from the look of the place, the menu is all Greek (but a subset of what’s offered on the main Samos menu). You’ll find a half dozen Greek spreads served with triangles of pita ($5-$6), entrée salads including a Samos Greek salad ($8-$12), made-here soups ($3/cup), “small plates” ($7-$12); Greek wraps ($6-$9) plus a handful of “Platters ($12-$16 which come with a side Greek salad and choice of one side).
At the fast food style counter, Marty ordered a Grilled Shrimp skewer wrap ($8); John, as well as our friend Tom, opted for a Gyro platter ($13). Our buddy Paul ordered a cup of Avgolemono soup ($3) plus Lamb Koftas ($10). After you order, you’re given a number on a stand which you place on your table and the staff brings your food to you.
The small Greek salad showed up first; some feta cheese cubes on top were the only differentiation from a garden salad. Paul’s soup starter was ok but arrived luke-warm (Marty would have demanded it be re-heated but not so Paul! <Wink>)
The Gyro platters proved a disappointment; double helpings of tzatziki sauce or a few triangles of pita didn’t rescue a pile of room temp, dried out Gyro meat which tasted like it had been carved off and sitting around for way too long. John chose “Greek Fries” as his side (foolishly envisioning a Feta sauce on top of hot fries); instead, there were small pieces of Feta cheese (but at least more Feta than came with his Greek salad!) on top of fries that tasted like they had sat around as long as the Gyro meat.
Tom’s choice of roasted veggies as his side dish proved lucky; the combo of roasted potatoes, pepper, carrots and onions proved far tastier than the “Greek Fries”.
Marty’s pita wrap looked like a shrimp gyro with 4 skewed grilled shrimp and some tzatziki, diced tomato and lettuce; he felt it was ok but wouldn’t go out of his way to get it again.
Paul’s koftas included two golf ball sized lamb meat balls along with tzatziki, some rice pilaf with bits of spinach dill plus a couple small triangles of pita. The koftas weren’t hot and had probably been sitting around while the pilaf looked more interesting than it tasted.
We’ve got good memories of the original Samos in Greek town where we’ve had great, tasty Greek food (and where what’s supposed to be served hot was hot) and the long time waitresses were as colorful as murals of Greece on the walls. By contrast, Samos Greek Island Grill is a Greek fast food joint with teenagers behind the counter and uninspired food that tasted like it had been sitting around for hours before it was served to us. If that wasn’t enough, we were further discouraged by the nondescript fast food décor, a dozen small tables packed uncomfortably close to each other and a foyer-less big door that could make the dining area uncomfortably cold in winter. All of this left us wishing that we had eaten at the original Samos which is less than a mile away at 600 Oldham Street in Greektown.
FACTS? Samos Greek Island Grill; 3745 Boston Street; 410-276-0165; Closed Sunday; Open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm; No bar; adjacent free parking; Vegetarian Options; http://samosgreekislandgrill.net/ ; Visited November 9, 2013