Address: 40 Rittenhouse Place, Ardmore
Rating: ★★ out of 5 stars
Style: Mediterranean / American
Food: Mix of Middle Eastern and American
Atmosphere: Pickup area only, no dine in
Parking: Yes, metered street parking
Service: Counter service is polite and friendly
Price Range: Most items: $3.99 - $13.99
Unique Feature: While the Mediterranean menu items are a much more solid bet, the wings were surprisingly good and come with one of 21 different sauces.
The words “Middle Eastern food” have such an exotic ring to them that they momentarily evoke a sort of wonder and excitement. But a quick glance at the menu from Ardmore’s brings about recognition rather quickly that Middle Eastern food is not at all unfamiliar. It’s a staple, and even a comfort food that we enjoy without even realizing its roots and traditions in our takeout diets.
The month-old Grape Leaves Grille has found itself right on the border of what they know and what they believe their customers want, offering a dizzying array of items, in both the Mediterranean and American categories: pretty much everything from Baba Ghanouj and Tabouleh to Chicken Quesadillas and Cheesesteaks.
I placed my order, attempting an array, and chose a Falafel ($5.95), a Gyro ($6.95), an order of Hummus ($3.99), a Spanakopita ($4.50), a side Greek Salad ($3.99), a Regular Chili Cheese Fries ($3.29) and an order of Fried Pierogies ($3.95). My receipt was printed with an enticing claim at the bottom.
“Voted Best Wings on the Main Line”
Though the man at the counter couldn’t attest to the claim’s origins, I added an order ($3.99).
I opened up the Spanakopita first. The triangles of spinach, phyllo dough and feta cheese were crispy, flaky, seemingly grilled, and tasty.
The Chili Cheese Fries were decent. The chili had a nice spice, but the generic yellow Wiz was less than thrilling.
The Pierogies were fried and served with a side of cool sour cream. This is a tough one to screw up, especially while using such a familiar frozen supermarket staple.
The Wings, dubbed anonymously as the Main Line’s best, were actually really good. When I ordered them, I was told they’d be 11 minutes, and right on the dot, an alarm sounded and my piping hot chicken went from fryer to sauce.
In addition to mild, medium and hot, Grape Leaves has an abundance of sauce options like Buffalo Garlic, Nuclear, Lemon Pepper and the chemical sounding Bar-Be-Cide, a spicy bbq mix.
Next up, were the Mediterranean picks where I finally found the flavors I was looking for in the Greek Salad and Hummus. These two items were a lunchtime dream. The Greek salad was a mix of lettuce, tomato, green pepper, red onion, cucumber, feta cheese and dressing. Everything was sliced to such a perfect size that even the green pepper chunks were perfectly enjoyable.
The salad was dressed, and yet not soggy at all and all of the delicious dressing at the bottom begged to be sopped up with the accompanying pita. But only so much of the pita could be spared. Its fate was meant for the Hummus. The age-old chickpea recipe was perfectly done with a nice lemon flavor and the right amount of tahini.
The Falafel and Gyro looked basically identical. Both were handheld, pita sandwiches with shredded lettuce, tomato and onions, but ended up being so fundamentally different. The Falafel was dry. The fried chickpeas begged to be seasoned and the only flavor that stood out was that of the raw red onion.
The Gyro, on the other hand was delicious. The thinly sliced lamb was flavorful and not chewy in any way. It blended perfectly with the dill in the tzatziki and was a wonderful end to my lunch.