Some places are famous for their “off the menu” items; think In-N-Out burgers famous Animal Burger (and fries). We’ve recently discovered a Thursday night dinner at a café near us that falls into that category.
If you look carefully at the hours posted on the door at Julie’s Café, you’ll see that it’s open until 8:00 only on Thursdays. What that doesn’t tell you, is that what you eat for dinner there can be made to order or you can take a chance on whatever Greek specialties Julie feels like making that week.
No matter what the main course, you’re assured of getting homemade bread, your choice of soup or Greek salad, desserts Julie has baked and a huge entrée.
The first week we stumbled into this, we had pastichio (pastitsio). There were huge slabs of tender pasta tubes holding up ground beef and topped with a thick golden layer of bechamel. Greek comfort food.
I’ve always loved stuffed grape leaves, especially when they’re warm and filled with lamb and rice. Julie presented me with a big plate of them the following week. They surrounded a pile of mashed potatoes and were covered with a perfect avgolemono sauce. At that point, I decided I wasn’t cooking on Thursday nights for a while.
Julie (not listening to me saying I could eat grape leaves every week) encouraged us to try her version(s) of lasagna the following week. She served up big portions of vegetable and meat lasagnas. They were lighter that the traditional Italian version and dill took the place of oregano. Both were delicious.
Other weeks have featured roast chicken with lemon and herbs, moussaka, meat loaf and stuffed cabbage.
What’s also fun about these Thursday nights is the sense of community. There is a group of Thursday insiders, all at their same tables enjoying some good home cooking. The bantering between Julie and her daughter— “yes Ma…” is heard a lot, along with negotiations for next week’s dinner.
Be prepared for generous portions and if you’re not able to come on Thursday evening, just let Julie know and you can pick up your feast on Fridays to enjoy at home.