Upon arrival at Pappas, we were seated promptly. The waitperson was enthusiastic, and came promptly to our table. Our order was taken with-in ten minutes. The new d?cor is minimalist with some very clever lighting fixtures. The menu has been reduced to a single page as we have come to expect from Robert Irvine makeovers. It is now clear that Pappas is a Greek restaurant.
For my appetizer I ordered the Tapenade Stuffed Calamari. The plated presentation was excellent. The tapenade lemon sauce with kalamata olives was absolutely stunning. I prefer the texture of muscles to calamari, but if you like calamari at all this is a ?must order? dish.
We also ordered the Roast Veal Meatballs with Tzatziki. The plated presentation was good. The meat balls could have used more seasoning. Once again the sauce was fantastic. The Tzatziki did not contain too much garlic allowing the cucumber and dill to shine through.
I ordered the Braised Lamb Shank with Potato Mash. The plated presentation was fair. The shank was an excellent cut of meat which was beautifully cooked. I would order this entree again. My one suggestion would be to provide more complexity to the dish by adding a sauce akin to Michel Richard?s Central?s Lamb Shank with Creamy Polenta, or greatly increase the sauce that the entr?e lists as an element.
In addition, we ordered the Lamb Spanakopita Tart with Tomato Compote. The plating presentation was good. The phyllo dough was crisp and cooked to perfection. The entree was an extraordinary variation of Spanakopita. It was filled with more spinach than usual, and chucks of lamb which offset the usual cheesiness of traditional Spanakopita. The tomato compote was a sweet compliment to the dish. This is another ?must order? item.
We finished with the Cheesecake Baklava. The plating presentation was good. Once again, the phyllo dough was outstanding. The caramel was a nice substitution for the typical honey element.
It was a pleasant surprise to have the kitchen staff come out at the conclusion of the meal and discuss their recipes with us. They displayed a refreshing passion for the food they prepared. I highly recommend Pappas as a dining choice with good, to excellent food, serving decent portions at reasonable prices. One member of our group lived in Greece and found Pappas? variations on traditional Greek dishes to be outstanding. She remarked it was a pity she lived in Chicago, and couldn?t frequent Pappas more often. It isn?t a pity that Benicia now has another excellent restaurant.