Ann About Town: Lou and Harry’s Serves up Ambrosia for Ann

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Photo courtesy of Lou and Harry's.

Lou and Harry's is a staple of the East Lansing food scene.

For a perfect bite, I’m willing to break a lot of rules. In general, I don’t eat lamb any more, despite having eaten my mother’s amazingly tender and garlicky leg of lamb approximately three million times for the first thirty years of my life. I am the worst kind of tender-hearted hypocrite, since I eat adult animals all the time, but, at some point, I just stopped eating lamb and veal. I also generally avoid eating large quantities of bread, especially the kind made with white flour, because it doesn’t agree with my blood sugar. That’s usually an easy pass, aside from a perfect baguette or…a gyro from Lou & Harry’s.

As I recently confirmed, Lou & Harrys gyro sandwich is worth breaking any rule you’ve got. We ordered takeout last week, and I shocked Captain Carnivore by ordering the “original” version of the gyro – with  lamb. You can also get it with chicken, but the point of this exercise was to recreate a particular culinary thrill that I hadn’t had in years.

Photo courtesy of Lou and Harry’s.

Lou and Harry’s original gyro.

It’s not expensive, and it doesn’t look different from any other gyro. But here’s the thing: a bite that includes the slightly crisp edge of a pita as well as its deep softness, the crunch of lettuce, the sweetness of tomato, the bite of raw onion, the cool of yogurt-based tzatziki sauce, and the hot tender spiciness of the gyro meat is simply divine. You really should try it at least once in your life, and then you can go back to your regularly scheduled eating.

I would have been happy with a pile of gyros, but we did order more broadly from the Lou & Harry’s menu. Captain Carnivore choose a Jalapeno Burger, which arrived perfectly “medium” as per his request, smothered in fresh jalapenos, cheese, and a southwest ranch. It isn’t a huge burger – more  quality than quantity – and for someone with a significant appetite (looking at you, Captain) it’s probably wise to order at least one side dish.

Photo courtesy of Lou and Harry’s.

Lou and Harry’s Jalapeno Burger.

For sides, we stuck to the Greek specialties for which Lou & Harry’s is justifiably famous. The spinach pie comes cold, for you to bake at home – a decision that guarantees a crisp, rather than a soggy spinach pie experience. Baby spinach and feta bake between layers of filo dough (the kind of thin, shatter-y pastry used to make Baklava), and the result is crisp and flavorful with the salty assertiveness of feta cheese and the mellower flavor of spinach. We heated ours in the toaster oven and it was totally worth the tiny bit of effort it took.

Our healthiest side was a Greek Salad, which is something I’ve ordered many times at Lou & Harry’s and have always enjoyed.  The lettuce was cold and crisp and topped with a puckery pile of feta, onions, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives, cucumbers, peppers, and “Momma’s Greek Dressing,” which is made in-house. Salads are good for you in many ways, but I truly believe that they should benefit the soul at least as much as the body. This one absolutely did.

Photo courtesy of Lou and Harry’s.

Spinach pies from Lou and Harry’s.

While you’re still admiring us for ordering a salad, I’ll just slide in the fact that our third side was an order of Greek French Fries. They are not healthy. They are probably still wreaking havoc in our respective arteries, but they are so good that I’m okay with that. Lou & Harry’s fries are relatively thin, and very, very crisp. The crispness matters because these fries come with a healthy topping of crumbled feta cheese and a container of Greek dressing that you’re supposed to pour over the fries and the feta. Having had countless soggy, disgusting, fries laid waste by various gravies and chilis, I was skeptical. If I’m going to eat something decadent, it’s got to be good.

And it’s good! Fries any less crisp, or made from mealier potatoes would be destroyed by the Greek dressing (the feta’s not so bad because it’s not really a melting cheese). The dressing sort of sinks into the fries and infuses them with spicy goodness and the feta is like a soft cloud of cream and salt. Captain Carnivore was very pleased with the Greek fries, and I really didn’t need to worry about overindulging because, well, he ate almost all of them.

As most locals know, Lou & Harry’s is an all-around good choice for everything from a lunch meeting (in the “before” times), to a family dinner, to a catered feast for any occasion. The menu is very vegetarian friendly and extremely kid-friendly. (There’s kid’s menu. It’s also delightful for food to accompany drinking,or to get you through the day after – that’s what fried pickles and smoked gouda mac and cheese vites are for, I’m pretty sure.

As for me, the things I love most at Lou & Harry’s are Greek, probably family recipes, and definitely satisfying. Besides the gyros and spinach pie, the Avgolemono soup (lemon, chicken, and rice) is the most comforting thing I can think of.  Next time you’re wondering what to do for a friend who is sick, heartbroken, or studying for exams, take them some Lou & Harry’s soup. There’s baklava, too, made fresh in the restaurant.

For next time, I have my eye on the Chicken Shish Special, with grilled, marinated chicken over rice pilaf and a Greek side salad. But for you, dear reader, whether you dine in or order takeout or delivery, you should start with the gyro. You can fiddle with the order next time, take out the onions, switch from lamb to chicken, whatever your personal rules dictate. But for one beautiful meal you can just close your eyes, take that first bite, and thank Athena that you didn’t mess with perfection.

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