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The Gyro Columbus Deserves

Story: Scott Koenig

Road Runner Gourmet Grill

The lovely thing about gyros is that they look best when the ingredients are whimsically strewn about like clothes on the floor of a teenager’s bedroom. Road Runner Gourmet Grill is a particularly apt example of this. I didn’t watch the preparation of my gyro, but there’s a strong chance the cook threw the ingredients into a particle accelerator, with pita on one side and filling on the other. The only rational way to explain why my gyro appeared the way it did is that its constituent parts collided head-on at speeds sufficient to cause a nuclear reaction. Nevertheless, it was tasty. I opted for the lamb gyro with everything on it and aside from the mediocre meat, I was pleasantly surprised by how well all the flavors and textures converged. Often the downfall of a gyro is an uneven distribution of tzatziki sauce; if the first few bites are dry, the last few are like getting slimed at the Kids’ Choice Awards. But Road Runner Gourmet Grill nailed it — sauced evenly throughout. This gyro took me right back to the radiant shores of Mykonos, but rather the Americanized version of Mykonos with more fat, more grease and more drunk frat stars spilling out of Midway.

Pita – 9/10

Lamb – 6/10

Vegetables – 7/10

Sauce – 9/10

Overall – B-

 

Apollo’s Restaurant & Spirits

If you stumble just north of Road Runner Gourmet Grill’s usual location, you come across Apollo’s Restaurant & Spirits, a nice hole-in-the-wall kind of place that will leave a hole in your stomach if you eat there often enough. And when it’s busy, the staff might put a hole in your head with a nearby kitchen utensil if you act like a belligerent crank while you wait in line. Apollo’s best suits those who like their gyros fast, greasy and belligerence-free. By good fortune, such are my preferences. Contrary to Road Runner, this gyro had an unusually orderly appearance. It was made with a sensitivity to detail that far exceeds most other restaurants whose primary clientele are students who have just spent a night getting battered at bars along High Street. The lamb was savory, the pita was thick and rich, the vegetables were fresh and their well-balanced tzatziki sauce added the figurative cherry on top. Indeed, I found the filling so appetizing that I sacrificed my dining decorum and used my fingers to scoop up and eat what had fallen out of the pita. In my defense, though, gyros are much like Greece’s economy — difficult to hold together.

Pita – 9/10

Lamb – 8/10

Vegetables – 8/10

Sauce – 9/10

Overall – B+

 

Pita Pit

My original intent was to avoid large chain restaurants for these reviews, but it would be a crime to neglect a place so bold as to declare itself the official pit of pita. So I took the plunge, tried out their food and was rewarded for my decision. Pita Pit offers a wide array of sandwiches all served in their Lebanese-style pita, which is slightly thinner and crispier than that of Apollo’s and Road Runner. It’s a build-your-own style restaurant with serving sizes that border on the gluttonous — the Chipotle of pita, without the E. coli. Rising from the crowd in this gyro were the vegetables, which approached a level of freshness that would make ‘90s Will Smith blush. The ingredients weren’t evenly distributed along the length of the gyro but it mattered little; every bite from start to finish was delicious. I even got lucky with free in-house entertainment during my meal: That ‘70s Show. What really got my heart beating more than any aspect of the food was the palpable sexual tension between Jackie and Kelso. It’s a shame things never worked out for them.

Pita – 8/10

Lamb – 9/10

Vegetables – 10/10

Sauce – 10/10

Overall – A

 

Buckeye Donuts

I did not expect to make it through a round of gyro reviews without encountering some form of hauntingly ambiguous street meat. Nor did I expect such a form of street meat to come from an establishment that I’ve trusted so earnestly for so many years. In hindsight, my gyro from Buckeye Donuts turned out exactly how I would expect a gyro to turn out coming from a donut joint that just happens to offer gyros. If my food came with a nutrition facts label, the first ingredient would be “lamb substitute,” “lamb-influenced food product,” or “based on a true lamb.” The vegetables were underwhelming and if they could talk, I’m sure they could tell some interesting stories about their 2,500 mile trip from California. Not only was their sauce just average, but it was scarce, leaving the gyro a bit dry. The highlight of my trip was a man in the store whose outfit was uncannily similar to that of Edward Scissorhands. I thought a Tim Burton theme for my visit rather appropriate, because were it not for the donuts I ate after my gyro, that meal would have been my Nightmare Before Christmas.

Pita – 8/10

Lamb – 5/10

Vegetables – 5/10

Sauce – 7/10

Overall – C –

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