Many of you may already know this, but along with running The Upstate Foodie, I’m also a full-time Montessori teacher. Never before have those two worlds collided, until we discussed a field trip for our 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade children to taste and experience Greek cuisine. My mind immediately thought of Ji-Roz, an authentic Greek restaurant located downtown Greenville.
Owner, John Makkas, was beyond helpful and enthused to provide our students with an approachable, yet diverse menu that would expand their palate far beyond their everyday school lunches. Their selections were Spanakopita, Brown Butter Spaghetti with Feta, Chicken Skewers, Pork Skewers and Pastitsio. You can imagine the expressions as we read the selections to them, with no mention of pizza, chicken fingers or grilled cheese.
When we arrived at Ji-Roz, John greeted us warmly and showed us to our already set tables in the center of the restaurant. I should mention that they hosted 3 different groups of children during the lunch-hour, weekday rush. The excitement was contagious as you looked around and saw huge smiles, heard children talking amongst one another saying “yummm” and “this is really good!” It seemed the crowd-pleaser was the buttery spaghetti noodles with big hunks of authentic Greek feta.
Teachers ordered off the regular lunch menu, so I shared the Dolmades and Santorini Salad with a coworker and was happy as can be. Ji-Roz does a wonderful job of preparing dishes that are hearty and satisfying, while also incorporating lots of fresh vegetables. Dolmades are grape leaves stuffed with rice, ground beef and herbs. Ji-Roz serves theirs with a slightly creamy and lemony Avgolemono sauce.
The Santorini Salad has a lot going on, but all the components somehow work together to give you a sampling of some authentic staples of Greek cuisine. To create this melting pot of tastes, they begin with their traditional Greek salad consisting of fresh Tyger Farm’s greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, imported Greek olives and an extremely generous serving of imported feta cheese. Then, the salad is topped with a huge scoop of Greek potato salad. Greek potato salad is vastly different than your traditional mayo based potato salad. Fork-tender potatoes are mixed with EVOO, red onion, fresh lemon and parsley to create a lighter version of a lunchtime favorite.
Rest-assured this will be one of those field trips our students talk about all year long! The service and professionalism of all the staff at Ji-Roz was quite impressive, and it was wonderful to see such consideration towards creating a memorable experience for our students. Be sure to follow Ji-Roz on social media to keep up with their specials!