It’s really hard to say if the mom and pop category can still be applied to any business anymore. It seems outdated. But if there is such a thing, GP’s Greek Kitchen, 2553 Kirsten Lane S., is it.
Mom works the counter and makes desserts. Pop is on the grill. Service is friendly, warm and welcoming. When you walk to the counter, you may well get the feeling that these people know you.
It’s a family business that extends the limits of its family to its customers, too. The server at the counter will walk you through your order, help you pick if you need it, make sure it’s exactly right and then make sure it was right when you are done. And it all happens with a sincerity and a real fondness for the food, the business and the customer.
It’s so extraordinarily rare in the dining world in Fargo, where service is driven by our strange tipping system, that it comes as a genuine surprise in this little strip mall shop on 32nd Avenue.
The atmosphere is limited by the location. It’s brightly lit, black and white and, like a good many strip mall diners, is about the food and not the feeling. Ambiance gets a bit of a boost because you get the feeling from the counter they really want you there, but the disposable cutlery, plates and bowls reminds you that dining at this level means compromises in serving.
There aren't many compromises when it comes to food. Things that fall short are preparation issues and the takeaway nature of the location. The rice in the soups and grape leaves are a little overdone and the baklava, fresh and clearly made from scratch on the spot, loses its crisp and flake when packaged in a closed container. As far as texture goes, it can’t shine like its flavors suggest it should have.
But they are easy to overlook when entrees come to your table. Servings are big. The gyro platter ($13.75) comes with large chunks of gyro meat cooked vertically keep it free from grease and evenly browned. The potatoes and vegetables were done exactly as you might taste them in Europe — light on the spice, lemon-centered, just teasingly underdone and free of grease. It’s a relatively light meal that seems like it couldn’t be light.
For those with American tastes, the chicken can be had with a buffalo sauce as a sandwich ($8.25), but it’s hard to see why when the tzatziki seems to be a much better match. Ordering onion rings with it will make you feel even more at home, though. But it’s not your best choice given the quality of the ingredients and the care in preparation available in the Greek dishes.
Another nice option for a taste of the Mediterranean are the soups ($3.75). Apart from the too-soft rice, the avgolemono brings the lemon to the table.
And perhaps this is what can best be said about GP’s Greek Kitchen — it is, in fact, a family kitchen. Attention to decidedly Greek ingredients speaks to its commitment to a kind of cuisine.
So if you are looking for a signature flavor that brings these dishes together, along with a statement as to how these two feel about their work, you can look to the lemon — and that makes this eatery an ideal way to introduce an early summer to your culinary calendar.
GP's Greek Kitchen
Address: 2553 Kirsten Lane S., Fargo
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Ratings (out of 4 stars)
Food: 3 stars
Service: 4 stars
Ambiance: 2 stars
Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.