It’s not often that ELV has such a bad experience in a restaurant, he rushes to his computer to tell you about it.
Usually, the worse the meal, the more he feels compelled to take a day or two ruminating over his repulsion before writing of his repugnance.
But our fourth try at Petra just confirmed every awful thing we’ve thought and said about it since the day it opened.
The owners have obviously spent a lot of money on this joint — it is the very embodiment of a big, expensively decked-out restaurant — but just as obviously haven’t a clue about Greek food.
And neither does the kitchen.
The souvlaki appetizer ($8), boasts of “marinated…with lemon juice, olive oil and spices,” but discerning any marinated flavor in these cooked kebabs is all but impossible.
Even worse, the meze “Sampler” of four spreads ($18) of your choice brought a “skordalia” dip that looked like an ice cream scoop of cold, chunked potatoes, and tasted like it had been infused with that sweet, slightly acrid, chopped garlic you buy by the gallon at Smart & Final.
Come to think of it, the whole menu here tastes of cheap, pre-made, Costco or Smart & Final flavors.
After that “skordalia” there was a scoop of Htipiti — which at least tasted of feta and red peppers — followed by Melitzanosalata, described on the menu as “fire roasted eggplant whipped with garlic and spices.” What arrived was another ice cream scoop of loosely chopped, indifferently-seasoned eggplant that any third-rate home cook could’ve tossed together. The only flagellation this dip has ever seen was the flogging ELV did to himself for ordering it.
Then came the “taramosalata” coup de grace. We say “taramosalata” because that’s what we ordered, but as we pondered the appearance and flavor on the plate we couldn’t figure it out. By process of elimination that had to be the final spread we were given, but this one tasted neither of fish roe, potatoes or softened bread crumbs. No roe was visible within it, and the whole concoction contained not the expected graininess from those ingredients, but instead that of a silky, bland, emulsion.
Our conclusion was it had to be a cheap, commercially processed taramosalata, made with a minimum of roe and a maximum of emulsifiers.
Which, again, sadly, fits the flavor profile of just about everything you will have here.
What really got our Kasseri up, though, were the puny, rice-filled dolmathes ($7) — which probably cost this kitchen 7 cents to make. They tasted like bland rice inside a slightly lemony grape leaf, and were made with all the passion of a Louis C. K. sex scene.
On the bright side, they give you tons of soft, squishy pita bread with everything…so there’s that.
The reason ELV gets soooo cheesed off at the pathetic-ness of this place is because of what it represents.
Here is a big, splashy restaurant that could be our town’s showplace for the best of Greek cuisine — it certainly looks like it is — but instead, what shows up isn’t even on par with Yasou, The Fat Greek, The Great Greek, Opa, or even Paymon’s fer chrissakes.
It isn’t just disappointing, it’s embarrassing.
Our food bill was $35 and we left a $15 tip because the bartender was a sweetie.
PETRA GREEK TAVERNA
440 South Rampart Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89145