Oh happy discovery! Aleko’s Village Cafe has opened in Middletown. It’s inside the Fountaindale Sunoco, where there used to just be subs and ice cream. There are still subs and ice cream, but they no longer matter at all b/c there’s super yummy vegetarian food…and baklava (insert Homer Simpson drooling noise).
Owned and operated by the Tsinonis family (the NICEST people), Aleko’s offers plenty of standard carnivore fare (well, it might be fantastic, but I don’t need to care about that) as well as the spanikoptia and Tiropita that we veggies turn to, but the big difference here is Vegetarian Gyros. They’re made with Morningstar Farms steak strips, which are pretty processed and far from actual food, but oh the yum! It’s the real deal (except for the absence of lamb…the silence of the lamb…sorry), tasty strips, tzatziki, feta, lettuce tomato, onion, and french fries–yes, french fries, as god intended. So good.
I popped in for lunch today and got a gyro and some sweets. There are several kinds of cookie and mini baklava, as well as big ol’ baklava and rice pudding. This afternoon, I tried the Melomakarona (honey cookies), the Koulouraki (Butter Cookies), and Kourambides (wedding cookies). The gyro, as mentioned, was great. The honey cookies were good, they tasted like gingerbread soaked in honey. Crazy sweet. The butter cookies were just barely sweet, with a dry crumbly texture that called out for a cup of coffee to go with them. The wedding cookies were that cookie that every culture seems to have–Russian teacake, Mexican Wedding cake, Shortbread–these are almond instead of the pecan that often turns up, and are good. Covered in powdered sugar, though, so be prepared to dust off.
Lunch was good enough that I decided to get take-out for dinner (Oh, really there can only be take-out. In nice weather, you can sit at the picnic tables outside, but there is no inside seating) since I run a 4-H meeting on Wednesdays and don’t have time to cook dinner. I called ahead for 2 Spankakopita, 2 Tiropita, one Veg. Gyro, and an order of Feta Fries. When I got there, the owner (lovely woman) told me that they had run out of Spanakopita but she had more in the oven. She offered to have someone drive it to my house, but didn’t think it would get there before 8. Since I was feeding 3 kids, I said I’d pass, but then she suggested I could just finish baking it at home. Brilliant! I also grabbed some rice pudding (made, apparently, by the owner’s son) and a slab of the big baklava as well as one each of the wee ones.
While the spanakopita baked and the tiropita warmed, we ate the feta fries–they’re boardwalk-style, which isn’t my favorite, but the feta made them worth eating. The kids hoovered them. The tiropita was a huge hit with the kids and I’d be quite happy to eat it again. The filo is super flakey and not at all greasy. The spanakopita was still baking, so we took a sweets break: The baklava–available by the mini pan or by the slice–made my eyes roll back in my head. Buttery, honey-y, nutty yum. The minis are available by the pound. They were good, but after the big baklava…no contest. Then the long-awaited spanakopita was done. It was a bit too spinach-y for the kids. I thought it was fantastic, as I usually don’t think there’s enough spinach in my spinach pie. It isn’t at all heavy, which is a nice change. The rice pudding was our end note. Delicious, good old-fashioned kind. This is not Kozy Shack (not that I won’t eat that by the vat, too), but a product that clearly contains rice. The kids were licking the bowls, so I’m thinking they approved, too.
When I mentioned to the owner that vegetarians were going to be so excited to find the meatless gyros, she exclaimed over how many vegetarians she’d seen. Then she said, “I can make lots of other vegetarian things, just ask next time. So I’ll be back. Oh yes.