Off the Vine
The Vine Greek Taverna is owner John Ieronymides’ big fat Greek retirement. Well, not technically Greek: Ieronymides was born on Cyprus, a Mediterranean island country east of Greece. His Cypriot parents took him off the island when he was a teenager, and Ieronymides spent the rest of his formative years in Britain. He came to Texas in 2001 to work as an aerospace engineer. After retiring last year, and after years of complaining about the lack of his kind of home-cooking in Fort Worth, Ieronymides rounded up his family –– wife Julie and the kids –– and created a small, unlikely Greek haven in the heart of the West 7th Street corridor.
The mélange of Greek, Turkish, and other Middle-Eastern influences that thrives on Cyprus powers the menu at The Vine. The food tastes mostly Greek, but there are a few spices here and there that are pleasantly different. Take the hummus, which my Greek-food-loving sister and I ordered as part of a three-pronged appetizer, the Tria. The paste was less garlicky than what you’d find in a traditional Greek, Israeli, or Lebanese restaurant, but the addition of beautiful extra-virgin olive oil gave The Vine’s version a sweet dimension.
The order also included a sublime tzatziki dip, heavy on the fresh chopped cucumber, and keftedes. Small balls of turkey, oregano, mint, and some sort of sweet mystery spice, they were fluffy and delicious (especially when dredged in that tzatziki). Like most everything else at The Vine, they are cooked to order.
The gyro meat is shaved into pieces the size and shape of Fritos. However, it is the same lamb/beef/secret spice mixture served at other Greek eateries. The Vine’s meat comes on fresh-toasted, yummy pita layered with tzatziki, lettuce, and tomatoes and accompanied by fries. Or order a house salad and add a hefty serving of gyro meat on top.
The mousaka was creamy comfort-food perfection. The eggplant was seasoned well and cooked properly: not too crunchy, not too mushy. The ground beef/tomato middle was spiced wonderfully with both sweet and savory herbs. Again, the sweetness made the dish taste different than most other versions. Over top, the thick béchamel sauce was a blanket of velvety goodness. The order included seasonal veggies grilled with more of that super-delish olive oil.
Save room for dessert. Ieronymides explained that The Vine’s baklava is not homemade because when his wife makes it (the old-fashioned way), “it takes her four hours.” The delicate, walnut-and-honey-spiked philo dough goodies come fresh from a bakery in Arlington. If dessert is semi-homemade, that means the cooks have more time to make mousaka and tzatziki.
The restaurant itself is simply designed and unadorned, especially compared to most other West 7th eateries. Ieronymides looks like a bookish engineer and speaks with a heart-melting Daniel Craig-type accent — at least until he unleashes a conversation in Greek. Ieronymides’ love of his culture, which includes carrying on some of his mother’s recipes, comes through in every inch of The Vine and in every dish.
The Vine Greek Taverna
2708 W 7th St, FW. 817-334-0888. Closed Sun. 11am-3pm, 6-9pm Mon-Sat.
All major credit cards accepted.
Tria appetizer ……………………….. $11.95
Mousaka w/grilled vegetables ….. $9.50
Gyro w/fries ………………………….. $8.50
Baklava …………………………………. $4.50