A new flavor is gracing the Nampa scene and pleasing local gastronomes with a variety of Greek choices to please the palate. Across from the Idaho Center, the Parthenon Authentic Greek Cuisine has created a light, bright, family friendly dining room that offers an unassuming setting with a touch of fine dining.
I love Greek food. I will eat Greek food any time it is offered to me, so finding a Greek restaurant tucked away in a strip mall, close to home, is an important find. When we arrived, the large lighted sign showed us the way, and my husband and I were surprised to find that it was bigger on the inside than on the outside. The open dining room and bustling wait staff were busy after a party had just ordered everything on the menu. Impressive first impression. Promptly greeted by friendly, knowledgeable staff, we were seated at the linen laden table and learned about the specials of the day, in addition to what our friendly waiter would recommend. It’s important to me to know what the staff likes, since they are surrounded by the choices day in and day out. At the time of this review the liquor licenses were still in the process of being approved, so I decided to try the Lemonade with Mango and my husband the pomegranate flavored iced tea. When the drinks arrived, we were also treated to a small plate of hummus and pita. I am going to get my only complaint out of the way, right away. The pita is not yet fabulous. It’s a bit like what I would buy at a grocery store. I say it’s not yet fabulous, as this restaurant is still in its infancy. It was only 2 weeks old when we visited, and I believe that the opportunity to improve this very important piece of Greek dining is still open. The hummus was tasty, and whetted our appetites for some tasty dinner.
The menu is great. Not too big, with a good amount of choices for those in the mood for lamb, chicken or pasta, additionally, vegetarians aren’t forgotten, with the offering of eggplant and Spanakopita (spinach pie with feta). Our waiter’s recommendation was the special of the day, the Black Angus beef gyro, and their Zymarik Gardes (shrimp pasta). We decided to start with the Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and the Souvlaki Arnisio (skewered lamb kabob). When the Dolmades arrived we were surprised to see a cream sauce on top, and were pleased with the result. This little addition to the taste of the Dolmades was outstanding. I would definitely come back for a full plate of these little treats for a nice lunch. The shrimp pasta entree came with a choice of side dish (dinner salad, pasta salad or greek fries), and we ordered the house made pasta salad. The perfect bite wasn’t hard to come by with the pasta, Kalamata olives, sun dried tomato pieces and feta cheese. The Souvlaki appetizer arrived, and I can’t rave enough about this little masterpiece. The lamb was so succulent, so perfectly cooked, I cut it with a butter knife, not to mention the melt in your mouth deliciousness that it was. This is one of the best Greek delicacies I have ever had. Lamb is hard to make perfect. The chef has mastered the system of creating the perfect lamb skewer. I found out that the lamb is marinated for about 4 days and only 3 people know the recipe. This is worth the reverse engineering.
While waiting for our main course to arrive we noticed the owners out mingling with their customers, making sure everyone was enjoying their meal and needs were being met. Owners Dianna and Lee Forrester, from Emmett, opened the Parthenon with their son, General Manager Jason Franklin. Jason’s love of Greek food and perfecting the menu in his parent’s kitchen, along with finding the perfect spot for locals to enjoy this cultural addition to Nampa, is really what brought the restaurant to fruition. It’s obvious there is a lot of love in what this family is bringing to the area.
Our main course arrived, and was beautifully presented. The shrimp in the Zymarik Gardes was, as my husband put it, as big as a baby’s arm, perfectly cooked, and tender. Again offering the opportunity to create a perfect bite, the bow tie pasta, accompanied by Kalamata olives, perfectly seasoned shrimp and garlic sauce was mouth-watering. The Black Angus gyro was served in a basket with the Greek fries conically caged in a holder that offered 2 dipping sauces, tzatziki and, according to our waiter, olive oil vinaigrette. With a bit of spice, the gyro offered a bed of crisp lettuce, tomato, grilled onion and lovely medium rare Black Angus beef. The pita fell short, as when I tried to pick it up and eat the gyro, it cracked in half and I had to use my fork to finish it. The tzatziki needs some love, it was missing that zing that makes it was it is, but offers a cool cucumber creaminess that is the requirement for a good gyro. The Greek fries were a nice treat, with the sprinkle of parmesan and herbs, but again, I would have like a more traditional tzatziki to dip into.
Finishing off our meal, with a choice of Tiramisu, Baklava, and cheese cake, we of course had to try the Baklava. Dense, delicious, flaky layers with that perfect sticky honey yumminess. The baklava is made by a local bakery and is definitely a great finish to a good meal.
The Parthenon is a wonderful addition to the Treasure Valley, especially the Nampa area, and the experience was very good. With a pleasant atmosphere, family friendly dining, and a courteous and attentive wait staff, you are sure to leave full and content.