Great Gyros: Whose Dish Gets the Gold?
In this week's edition of 'Food Fight', we visit Salam Market in Ballwin and others to compare their take on a classic dish with origins that cross the oceans.
Traditionally a gyro is made by placing pieces of meat on a vertical spit, which cooks as it turns. The meat is sliced vertically in thin strips. It's then served on warm pita bread topped with tomatoes, onions, lettuce and tzatziki or tahini sauce.
In the United States, finding an establishment with a vertical spit is rare. Many restaurants buy the meat precooked and sliced, others make their own variations with different cooking methods. The ability to serve flavorful meat, delicious tzatziki sauce and generous toppings are what make a great gyro.
Lazeez Market 14248 Manchester Rd., Manchester
The menu items at Lazeez Market seem somewhat disconnected. Burgers and biryiani? However, an employee explained the market specializes in offering Zabiha Halal meat, which abides by Islamic laws. This provides a product of American-style foods, including burgers and chicken wings, for people who only eat halal meat.
The floor of the restaurant was sticky, and several tables had not been cleaned, despite the fact that we were the only customers there. The service was painfully slow, and we considered leaving. However, everything was made to order, so that might be the reason for some of the wait time. The pita bread on the gyro was heated on an actual grill, giving it a smoky and warm, inviting flavor. The meat was precooked and thinly sliced, which eliminates some of that delicious, fatty and meaty flavor. The meat did have a generous and authentic amount of seasoning. The sauce, tomatoes and onions were scant.
The good: The meats brought into the restaurant were high quality, and plenty of halal meats were available.
The bad: Although the people were very nice, the service was slow and the gyro was just OK.
Salam Market 14063 Manchester Rd., Ballwin
Salam Market is a store with Middle Eastern ingredients that serves gyros (which it calls shawarma), falafel and pastries. There are a few tables for customers to enjoy their sandwiches. The gyro was warm and flavorful with interesting ingredients such as pickled turnips. There was a generous amount of tomatoes, onions and pickled turnips. The gyro could have used more tzatziki sauce. The pickled ingredients, though interesting, detracted somewhat from the overall flavor and may have been balanced out by more sauce. In general, the gyro was fresh and flavorful. I would go back again.
The good: The flavors were interesting the ingredients authentic.
The bad: A lack of sauce unbalanced the dish.
The Mediterranean Grill 703 Long Road Crossing Dr., Chesterfield
The Mediterranean Grill is owned by Israeli born Elie Harir. He has a delicate touch with his ingredients. There is a certain touch with spices and flavorings that spotlight the heritage of a dish. The gyro had that. In addition, the meat, although baked, had enough fat and just the right amount of spices to make it incredibly welcoming. There was also a generous amount of tzatziki sauce and toppings. The service was adequate, although the staff was not particularly friendly. However, when Harir came out of the kitchen, he greeted all of his customers. The gyro was authentic and quite delicious.
The good: The meat was cut thicker than most, and the gyro was juicy and flavorful.
The bad: The servers were not particularly friendly.
The winner: The Mediterranean Grill won because the meat was so flavorful and juicy.