East Side Pocket
Two #7 gyro pockets
Strips of Greek style season lamb, one with all the toppings, hot sauce, hummus, lettuce, tomato, hot peppers, onions, pickles, tabouleh, tahina, yogurt cucumber sauce, except the tomatoes, and one with just lettuce, onions, and yogurt cucumber sauce.
For years Jim has been trying to talk me in to gyros at East Side Pocket on Thayer Street. Every time we’re in Providence, usually for dinner and WaterFire, gyros come up as a top three contender. Having never been a fan of gyros, which in my experience are always drippy and messy eats, I have usually put up resistance, but this time our planned outing to Spike’s was kiboshed by their relocation from Thayer Street to the opposite side of town, so I gave in to gyros.
First: Not at all messy, especially if you get all the toppings like Jim does; the thin yogurt cucumber sauce gets soaked up by the hummus, tabouleh, and tahina. Whereas I had only lettuce and onions on mine, so the sauce was a little messier. But still not as messy as I’d expected.
Second: I was so disappointed by the lamb. Jim tells me that back in his college days they did the lamb the old-fashioned way, shaved to-order off a leg on the rotisserie. This lamb seemed to be ground and shaped in to long, thin patties, then done up on the grill. I am sure that doing it this way is less expensive for the restaurant, easier to control the portions, and easier to maintain the flow of stock, as well as not as hot as the open rotisserie in the cramped space in the summer, but I feel like whatever they made up in savings and air conditioning, they lost in flavor. If I hadn’t known it was lamb, I couldn’t have told you it was lamb and not beef. The seasonings were way too heavy-handed, obscuring the unique natural flavor of the meat. I fell in love with lamb in Greece, where it was always done up simply, with simple spices and sea salt to bring out the natural flavor of the meat. Jim hadn’t had a gyros in long enough that he hadn’t thought about it. I pointed out that it is good, inexpensive, plentiful college food for the students on the Hill, but I wouldn’t call it Greek, I’d call it Americanized Greek; just like how most of the Chinese food we eat in this nation is Americanized Chinese, adapted to the palate of the host country.
Jim demolished his pocket, but I could only get halfway through mine before I couldn’t get down another bite. He said it was okay if I didn’t finish mine, since they are well-sized, but I had to explain that whereas I was starving before dinner, if I had gotten up and walked away from the table at that point, I would have been merely not very hungry, with no feeling of having eaten (just of being less hungry). So while I hadn’t been planning on any dessert, I gave up on my pocket and went back inside for two pieces of baklava, the quality of which more than made up for the pocket. Soft, sticky, great texture in the filling. Jim has been saying for years, I don’t like baklava, I don’t like baklava, which is always a disappoint to me, since I love baklava. Then he looks at my two little pieces of baklava and says, What’s that? Baklava, I say. Oh, he says, if this is baklava, what is the stuff wrapped in leaves? Dolmas, or dolmades. All this time when someone says “baklava,” he pictures dolmades. No wonder he keeps telling me he doesn’t like “baklava”! As it turns out, he did like East Side Pocket’s baklava, and it filled the hole I still had in my stomach after the disappointing pocket.