Fans of Meli Cafe in the city will be pleased to know their former chef has now opened two suburban Greek concepts in Algonquin and Addison. They focus on homemade everything, from the jams to the pastries and, of course, the gyros. At his latest cafe, those gyros come in three distinctive flavors.
Unlike almost every Greek restaurant in the region, the team at Briki Cafe, in a quiet Addison strip mall, makes everything from scratch.
"Briki Cafe is more of a new age Mediterranean. We basically bring Greece to your backyard," said chef and co-owner Frank Georgacopoulos.
Just consider gyros for a second. They marinate chicken in mustard, Greek yogurt, oregano, coriander and smoked paprika. The next day it's carefully stacked on long, metal skewers, wrapped in plastic to keep its shape and placed on a vertical broiler to be charred and sliced for orders. They also stack a pork belly gyro - more typical of Greek street food - as well as a Chicago-style with lamb and beef that they also make in-house. You can get a little bit of everything, along with some of their homemade kebabs, mounded over their crispy fries.
"That's called our mezze platter which is super popular, that feeds between one to ten depending on your appetite, so it's got a sampling of everything on there," he said.
They can also make a stuffed sandwich, with any of those meats jammed into griddled bread along with yogurt, red onion and lettuce. But there's a lot more than just gyros and kebabs. Consider a pasta with a Greek-inspired meat sauce.
"The version of a Greek meat sauce versus a typical Bolognese. It's a little bit more heartier, with hints of a little bit of clove but heavy cinnamon," Georgacopoulos said.
They also dredge feta through eggs, flour and Japanese panko bread crumbs before grilling. A modern version of saganaki.
"The panko gives it a little more texture and protects the cheese from falling apart when we're putting on the flat top," he said. "We brown it - it gets nice and soft - then we top it with a little bit of honey and then the black and white sesame seeds."
Pastries are a given, as are the homemade loukoumades, a Greek donut topped with walnuts and honey. Have them with an icy frappe or Greek coffee.
"We do a traditional Greek coffee made in the sand, which very few places do nowadays. It heats up to 240 degrees, then we take our briki - which is the name of the restaurant - the little cylindrical pot, we put in heavy duty ground coffee with a little bit of water, if you want with sugar or not and then slowly cook it on the flame," said Georgacopoulos.
In Steve's Extra Course video, he talks about some of the great breakfast items at Briki, like a Greek omelet and some unique pancakes and crepes.
1453 W Lake St, Addison