Monday, June 28, 2010

Despina's Mediterranean Taste

Hi all - Megan here to take the lead review today. While I am co-contributor to this blog, I have not been pulling my weight as I've been busy teaching. Since my class is now done, I hope to post more reviews (though probably never as many as Dan).

On a whim, Dan and I headed downtown for lunch today to Despina's Mediterranean Taste located on Court Street just a few steps away from sake tumi. I'm told that this is a new location for Despina's and it seems to serve mostly as a lunch spot as it is only opened until 6pm or so. Upon arrival, there was a sign out front that listed the specials for today, which included a soup and salad deal that seemed to be popular amongst many of the patrons who were there when we were. The place is not much to look at - sparse in decor with only a few posters of Greek landmarks and filled with either high-top tables or regular ones with silver tops. We were given menus fairly quickly by the only person who seemed to be manning the place, although it is not big and therefore probably does not need a large staff to function.

The menu is your basic greek fare - gyros, souvlaki, salads, etc. However, I was pleased to find that they offered falafels - deep fried chick peas usually served in a pita with veggies and tzatziki sauce for those not in the know. I have been a major fan of falafels since experiencing them when I lived in Paris and had the good fortune of eating some of the best falafels in the world at the famous L'as du falafels, located in the Marais just blocks from the Archives Nationales. If you are ever in Paris - please seek this spot out and get yourself a delicious and huge falafel - you will not regret it. Anyway, since I have been back stateside, I have searched high and low to find a place that offered a falafel that could even come close to meeting my high expectations. I have found a few decent ones - Aladdin's Natural Eatery in Ithaca is winning so far - but had hoped to find a good falafel closer to home. Dan chose to go with the gyro and we each got a bottle of water as they did not seem to have any drink menu at all, just a selection of cans of soda and bottles of water and maybe even powerade (I did not go up to the fridge to take a closer look, so I am only guessing from what I saw).

My falafel came out with a side that I think was some sort of cous-cous in an italian or vinagrette dressing - which was good, but a little garlicky. The falafel itself was okay - I liked the warmed pita, the cucumbers and tomatoes and tzatziki sauce (though there could have been more), but the falafel itself, while full of flavor, was too mushy for my liking and also a bit on the small side. I like my falafel with a bit of crispness on the outside. Again, you have to remember that I have had some of the best falafel ever, so I recognize that I am a tougher judge than others might be.

Dan's gyro came with a side of potato salad, which I sampled and was good. He seemed to like his gyro well enough, but like me, was not blown away by anything.

All in all, it was a good lunch experience. Most of the menu was around the six dollar mark and everything came with a side. Much more could be done with the decor to make the place feel less empty and they should consider adding a list of drink options to their menu. At the end of the day, my quest for the best falafel continues.

Grade: B-

Despina's Mediterranean Taste on Urbanspoon


  1. Megan summed Despina's up well. She was a little more generous than I would have been, grade-wise. The food was satisfying but altogether unremarkable. The atmosphere is nonexistent at best, drab at worst. There are other better Greek options in the area: Mediterranean Gyro in Vestal, for starters. I see no reason for a return visit to Despina's. Grade of C for me.

  2. I think despina's is wonderful. Their flafel is superb and their baby greek salads are to die for. Sure, they may not have a huge selection of soda or water, but is that really what you look for at a greek restaurant?

  3. it is very clear to me that you dan ar not use to homade food and fresh food. everything is made fresh in the morning and from your little comments freshness and healthy is really not your priority. falafel are usually fried in grease and oozing with oil. at despina's they use real chick peas and homade ingredients and it is also grilled instead of fried. that's ok everybody has thier opinion . thank god yours is not the majority. #1 customer. ps . please look up home cooking (no preservatives) I bet you can't find that in every resturant)

  4. Anonymous, I really don't know why you're attacking me here. For starters, I didn't write this review. Megan did. In my comment, I said absolutely nothing about the freshness/homemade-ness of the food at Despina's. In Megan's review, she said nothing about it either. I am tough enough to take criticism but I do not feel it's warranted in this case.

  5. Good comments and well put Anonymous. You were informative about important information and not "attacking" and it also sounds like "Megan and Dan" were on this blog to advertise for other, I recall that there are OTHER web sites specifically designed for that kind of advertising. In all respect, I give Despinas Mediterranean Taste an outstanding rating. I also have been to Europe, and when I dine at Despinas, I am eating the food in Greece. Keep up the good work at this fine establishment. Binghamton needs it.

  6. The entire point to this blog is that we have no agenda. We visit places and comment on our experiences. If saying nice things about places we've liked is "advertising" (for shame!), so be it. But "advertising" suggests that we get something in return, which we absolutely do not. I am glad you liked Despina's. We did not. End of story.


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