Going Greek for Miles (and cash back)

Going Greek for Miles (and cash back)

Athena Kouzzina – Frugal Vegetarian Takeout Review

Overall Rating: Most Excellent

As a reminder, the chief criteria of this challenge are to:

  • Stack as many discounts/points as possible
  • Pay as little as possible for as much food as possible
    • thus takeout, to avoid drinks, desserts, and tip and “atmosphere
    • thus vegetarian, as meat-free food should be less costly
  • Find decent places to eat on the company per diem and take home as much money and points as possible

Vegetarian Friendly: Quite so

  • There were quite a few items available to pick from including Angel Hair Pomodora, Feta Ravioli, and Basil fettucini. I chose a few of my favorite items from the menu and thought I’d try a new one. Nearly every pasta dish on the menu with a “before meat” price, so meatless was a cheaper and obvious option in all cases.

Take Out Friendly: Pretty good

  • Had to place the order over the phone. No web or app-based ordering. I walked in, said I was there to pick up my order, paid for my food, and walked out, without any hassle whatsoever. Napkins and tableware were included.

Accuracy: Perfect

  • When asking for vegetarian preparation, or extra sauce in this case, there’s always a chance something will go wrong. When ordering over the phone, there’s one more chance that something will go wrong with the order. Not a thing went wrong.

Value: Pretty Good

  • The amount of food and prices charged weren’t quite the same value as eating at home, but for restaurant food, the prices were pretty good, and the portions were far from stingy.

Timeliness: Great

  • I was told the food would be ready in 15-20 minutes. I got there in 20 minutes and the food was already bagged and ready. The cashier immediately saw me  and was out of there in mere minutes. When I got it back home, it was still plenty warm.

Service: Excellent

  • The phone was answered quickly to place the order. The order was taken accurately and politely. The wait time was nearly zero.

Food Quality: Pretty darn good

I ordered a few things, because some of the sides/starters were pretty affordable, and I had to get $30 worth in order to get my Delta bonus points. (which I failed to do at Tilted Kilt)

Greek Salad – Crisp iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, pepperoncinis, kalamata olives, Feta and our exclusive Athens dressing.
Greek Eggplant Dip – Roasted eggplant, fresh garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil and salt.
Spanakopita – Phyllo dough filled with spinach and cheese with Yia Yia’s [do I know this person?] syrup on the side.
Eggplant Parmigiana – Kouzzina-style eggplant Agnanti [what’s that??] served with linguine and tomato sauce.

The Greek salad was exactly as advertised and generally as expected. The lettuce was quite crisp, the tomato (though sparse) was ripe and delicious. However, pretty much everything other than the dressing, iceberg lettuce, and cheese was pretty sparse. I actually had to dig through to figure out where/if the onions were. The dressing was so-so: a whole lot of olive oil, and generally light in flavor. The freshly grated feta cheese was so fresh, it was actually hard to believe it was feta. This didn’t taste like your store bought feta, that’s for sure.

The Greek Eggplant Dip was pretty thin and mayonnaisey. I really couldn’t taste much else over the overpowering mayonnaise. I would have expected a bit more grilled eggplant or garlicky flavor. It was decent, but mostly seemed like mayonnaise with eggplant seeds in it. The accompanying pita wedges, however, were fresh and light and tasty.

The spanakopita, or spinach pie, was where things really turned in Athen’s favor. The phyllo was crisp and flaky. The filling of spinach and onion was so flavorful, rich, and savory. Combined with the accompany honey sauce (made by Yia Yia, I guess)… it seemed, at the time to embody the perfect food. The only flavor “missing” was sour, but all of my taste buds were dancing with delight with each bite. I’d never had a spanakopita served with a honey sauce, so I was eager to see what they had in mind, and I was delighted to have gone to visit Yia Yia. I recommend you do the same.

The Eggplant Parmigiana was a great finish to the meal. The breading on the eggplant was light and occasionally crisp, despite being soaked in the tomato sauce (of which I asked for extra). The pasta was to al dente perfection, and the sauce, itself was flavorful and intense with a bit of a kick to it that you could only feel in the aftertaste.  The only thing wrong was a bit or two of eggplant that were slightly under-cooked.

The Discounts and Deals

I expect to receive a stacked deal of:

  • 7% cash back from Mogl (got an immediate acknowledgement when the transaction hit the clearinghouse – just like last time)
  • Since I spent over $30, a bonus of 500 Delta SkyMiles as part of their Delta Dining bonus
  • 3 miles per dollar from the Delta SkyMiles Dining program from Rewards Network, since I’m an “online member” (getting their spam)
    • now up to 2:12 required restaurant visits to count toward 5 miles per dollar VIP status
  • 1 mile per dollar from my Delta American Express card

The Experience

Overall, the vegetarian items were plentiful. The pricing to leave off meat was obvious and fair. The ordering process was easy. The food was delicious. What else can you say really? I’d absolutely go again [on the company’s dime].

This is the entry way. It’s in a mall, but they still made it cute.
Mall dining area
$34 worth of Greek take out!
Greek Salad, but of course!
Eggplant dip with pita wedges
Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Eggplant Parmesan with linguine












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