EVERETT — When you’re dining out, a friendly server can make all the difference.
That was the case this week when Herald Features Editor Sara Bruestle and I visited Gyro House Mediterranean Cafe on SE Everett Mall Way. As soon as we crossed the diner’s threshold, Hussein, the cheerful counterman, boomed out a friendly greeting. We soon found out he was working on his day off — but Hussein quickly added he comes in nearly every day for the Greek fries, anyway.
The boss was away, looking at tile for an upcoming remodeling project, so our guy was doing it all: taking orders at the counter, helping out in the kitchen and running food to the tables. But he did it all with plenty of good humor.
I, on the other hand, get a strong case of the grouches when I have to work on my day off.
Gyro House’s menu includes all the things you expect at a Greek or Middle Eastern eatery: gyros, shawarma, falafel and kebabs, in sandwich form or plated with rice, pita bread and salad on the side. Gyro House labels the meat it serves as halal — prepared as prescribed by Muslim dietary law.
You can order a sandwich by itself or as a value meal with fries and a drink for a couple of bucks extra. There also are shawarma and kebab plates with your choice of falafel, beef, lamb or chicken. And the Gyro House kitchen does a big mix-grill plate that serves four people, with chicken shawarma, gyro, lamb kebab, beef kebab and falafel, with rice, salad and pita bread on the side, for $40.
Sara chose the gyro value meal with fries and a soft drink ($8.99, with 50 cents extra for an upgrade to Greek fries). I opted for a combo shawarma plate of grilled lamb and chicken over saffron rice, with salad and pita bread ($13.99).
Mr. Congeniality upsold us on two pieces of baklava, 99 cents apiece. “I’m telling you, it’s amazing,” he promised.
Our chow arrived almost as soon as we settled into our booth by the window. My shawarma plate looked appealing. The thin cuts of meat, traditionally stacked into a cone shape on a skewer, roasted and sliced off with a sharp knife, were flavorful, if a bit dry. The accompanying Greek-style salad complemented it well, but I wasn’t fond of the tahini and tzatziki sauces as toppings to relieve the meat’s dryness. The pita bread was agreeably soft and fluffy.
Sara pronounced her gyro to be not quite as good as the gyro she’d recently enjoyed at Babylon Mediterranean Food, the Everett Mall food court fixture. She liked the Greek fries, which reminded her of the fries at Wienerschnitzel. But like me, she was less enthusiastic about the tzatziki topping them.
And the baklava? It was a pretty little square of flaky phyllo pastry enclosing a pistachio filling. It was good, but it might well have been the amazing baklava that Hussein promised had it been as warm as his greeting. It apparently had come from the fridge, and the coolness muted the flavors.
Owner Raya Alqaysi, who opened the restaurant in 2016, has a major remodeling on the drawing board. She said she plans to double the size of the dining area, and a expanded menu also is in the works.
Gyro House wasn’t fine dining, but it was certainly more than good enough for a quick lunch in south Everett. Others feel the same way, as we noted a steady stream of customers during our meal.
And good customer service always makes a positive impression. I’ve eaten plenty of meals where good flavor was dulled by a sour attitude from the person serving it.
If you go
Gryo House Mediterranean Cafe, 620 SE Everett Mall Way, No. 400, Everett, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more, call 425-513-1884 or go to gyrohousecafe.com.