Monday, December 10, 2007

Spartan Gyros: real gyros, real fries!

Editor's Note: Alas! Alack! Spartan Gyro is no more. Olympic Broil, on Seymour on the North Side, is your best bet for good old fashioned fried food now.

Oh, my god, they have Real French Fries! I haven't had french fries like that since... well at least since MacDonald's stopped using beef tallow. Ahem. Anyway....

I stopped by at Spartan Gyros today, in East Lansing in the old Taco Bell building. It's hard to park down there yet, but I think the new parking ramp they are building right across the street will help. Right off, I was impressed by the big grill menu. Burgers, bbq, corn dogs, fried perch or shrimp. And of course, Greek salads, gyros and baklava. I went with the gyro, because it seemed like a good place to start. And I went with the combo because, well, they asked, and I figured I'd try it.

The gyro gives Lou and Harry's a run for their money. (Gyro afficianados will prefer Spartan -- it is authentic as well as good.) Lou and Harry get points for the spicing and searing on their meat (which comes from cooking it on a griddle rather than the traditional rotisserie). Both have good tsatsiki (yogurt sauce with herbs and stuff) though Spartan's chunky with fresh herbs and maybe some cucumber. And Spartan's wins hands down on the toppings -- with good onions and REAL TOMATOES! Tomatoes with flavor!

They also fill the gyro really full with a lot of meat -- which is either good or bad depending on how much meat you like in your gyro.

As for the Fries.... They are the thin kind. Plain, well fried from good potatoes. Crispy and yet with a creamy, steaming inside. I had a problem getting home, driving in the dark , trying to tear open the stapled shut bag so I could sneak more fries. (These are especially good take-out fries. Like the chips I had in London, they steam themselves just enough in the bag to enhance the flavor but not destroy the crunch. This, however, could be part of why I liked them so much. Very few fries these days stand up to the bag test. Most take on the mealy texture of stale potato chips.)

I am a french fry snob. I can't abide those crappy coated fries which are basically just fry-shaped tater tots. And don't talk to me about yuppie "seasoned fries", or the tasteless yet macho potato-skin fry. All of those are basically just a way to cover the fact that they are made with bad potatoes and "healthy" grease that can't handle the right temperatures.

A good fry is a wonder to behold. Nothing but potato, grease and salt. Sigh. Next time I go there, though, I want to try the corn dogs.

Spartan Gyros. 565 E. Grand River in East Lansing. 332-1833. (The menu says that they now deliver!)

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