Look out Atlanta, there’s a new Greek restaurant in town. After a number of delays, Mykonos Taverna has finally opened its doors. Originally scheduled to open at the end of April, the restaurant finally said hello to us late last week. I had no idea when I penned the aforementioned post that droves of people would be looking for info on the restaurant. As of this writing, that post is the third most visited page on the site.
That web fever seems to have translated to hungry masses; the place was absolutely packed when we arrived for dinner at 7:50. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that Mykonos was the newest Blais project to hit the ATL. The reality is that the restaurant’s purveyors also operate Mykonos Grill up on Cobb Pkwy; perhaps that accounts for some of the fervor.
Having never stepped foot in Mykonos Grill, I have no idea if Taverna is a departure for the operators. Regardless, the fact that they have done this before leaves me a bit perplexed; dinner was perhaps one of the most unusual dinning experiences I’ve ever been witness to.
The “Huh, seriously?” started when we arrived and lasted throughout the meal. Located on Clairmont Road in the same parking lot as Sam’s Club, you just don’t expect a place like this to be there. While I don’t know what I did expect, a neon rich atmosphere that accented an over-sized diner was certainly not it. The exterior utilizes neon on the trim and adds a glowing overhang as a reference point for the interior. By the time we walked through the second set of doors, my head was spinning. Menu items listed on the wall in bright blue, a rainbow colored “thank you for dining with us” sign over the entrance, and dropped lights give this place more glow than a cocktail party hosted by Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy (who’s with me?). To further enhance the experience, the restaurant is sectioned off by some partitions and a few stairs.
As I struggled to take it all in, we found ourselves in the middle of three women who operated asynchronously. Unclear as to who to listen to, we were told that the wait was both 5-minutes and 20-minutes. One of them went onto explain that while we waited, we were welcome to have a seat at the bar. However, it was further explained that you could not order any food at the bar. She then asked us to follow her only to become befuddled and awkward when I told her it might be a good idea for us to actually put our name on the list.
So with that done, we participated in the awkward procession to the bar. Who seats people at the bar??? We plopped ourselves down and immediately observed several different groups of people eating at the counter. Huh? Okay – so the night was off to an uncomfortable but understandable start.
Unfortunately, the tom foolery continued throughout the meal. I don’t really think it’s necessary to go into any great detail; but, I will tell you that service at the bar was chaotic. However, we managed to sneak in an order of the fried calamari and a couple of beverages. I must say, the speed in which the order was delivered rivaled that of any other sit down restaurant I’ve ever dined at. The food itself was fairly run of the mill. The thick cut squid was lightly battered and fairly bland. While far from offensive, I find that I have very little to say about the composition … it was just that plain. Meanwhile, the best thing about the marinara was the pouring tip on the side of the jar.
So, we worked our way through the calamari and our drinks. Just as we got to the end, one of the hostesses showed up and told us that a table had opened up. After being reassured that we could not order anything else at the bar (which was obviously not true), we reluctantly agreed to be seated. We took about ten steps and found ourselves stuck at one of the bar tables. Being stuck over in the corner like we were ugly step-children was the least of our problems; after that, service when from absent minded and sporadic to non-existent.
The one girl who I could have sworn was supposed to be our waitress was so awkward that she made the three ladies at the front look like Grace Kelly. We eventually had to flag down one of the bartenders just to place our order. Again, the delay in service seemed completely out of place – our food arrived inside of 5 minutes.
Though I did not have a chance to sample it, the gyro appeared to be as serviceable as the calamari. Reports are that while ample in size, it lacked enough meat to really do the job and was topped with an abundance of Tzatziki sauce. Visually speaking, it was impressive in size but lacked the eye-appeal of the gyros at Café Agora. Going on second hand information and my eyeballs, I’d say that the gyros at Mykonos have a long way to go before I mention them in the same breadth as those from Café Agora.
Want to take a guess as to what I thought about my order of Pastichio? Let’s just say it was a far cry from the one pictured over on Cinnamon, Spice, And Everything Nice. To put it in more tactile terms for those of us, this rendition doesn’t approach the versions at Marietta Diner or The White House in any aspect. The Béchamel sauce seemed to get dried out in the conveyor belt preparation and the remaining ingredients (like the garlic, nutmeg, and onions) all made the necessary appearances. Given the $11.00 price tag and the portion control, I will say that when I left, I was not “unhappy.” If you can’t get past that bastardization of the English language, let me put it another way. The Pastichio at Mykonos, and all the food we sampled, didn’t bother me enough to get my underwear in a knot. But it seems far from destination worthy.
This mish-mash of passable and bad left me mild to the experience. The Vegas style brightness didn’t lend itself well to my snap shots, but I think that in and of itself should tell you something. The menu here is beyond overwhelming; while there is a strong focus on traditional Greek food, burgers and cheesesteaks make a predictable appearance. What’s more bothersome is the fact that several items appear multiple times on the menu and the prices seem completely out of whack. If you find a sandwich or entrée that hovers around the $10 price point, you’ll be fine. However, a vast number of items are really overpriced given the quality of the ingredients and assembly line production (how else could they spit this stuff out so fast).
I’m not going to get all worked up over the service issues; after all, we did volunteer to eat there inside of 7-days after they opened. However, given the experience of the owners – they should know better.
When it’s all said and done, this place is an eye-sore that might stick around for a long time for a multitude of inexplicable reasons. I might go back IF I’m in the area AND I’m dying for some Greek food. For now, Café Agora reigns supreme.
Mykonos Taverna Restaurant Address & Information
2901 Clairmont Rd, Atlanta, GA 30329 // 404.638.6770