22 November 2010

A Visit to Souvlaki House

The Souvlaki House has been on Lawrence Street, just off grubby old Fulton Mall, for 40 years. This probably makes it one of the few old restaurants in the area. Eateries don't last long in Darwinian downtown Brooklyn. The only exception for many years was Gage & Tollner. And that finally bit the dust, as we all bitterly know.

Souvlaki House is hardly in the same league as Gage & Tollner. But it does what it does with a certain bygone charm. It's run by a father and son who are always behind the counter. The father, white-haired, mans the spinning cylinder of gyro meat, tenderly carving off slices into his special, dustpan-like utensil as they are ordered.

The food is pretty good here. More than decent, for its type. There aren't a lot of choices–burgers, Italian sausage, salads, in addition to the Greek specialities. More sandwiches hover around $5 and $6. It's an extremely cheap meal, and the locals appreciate that. Folks of great means and little means, with little time on their hands and lots of time on their hands, stop in regularly, and, obviously knowing the joint well, placing their orders with little hesitation. There is often some friendly conversation between the Greeks servers and their guests, sometimes some playfully aggressive banter. The hostile grumblings of a homeless man paying for his tea in pennies are smoothly tolerated. The owners go about their business in an old school way, cultivating a genuine relationship with the neighborhood. As a result, it seems to be a rather treasured gathering place for the area's employed and unemployed.

The room is kind of triangular shaped, getting narrower as you go back. There's a counter with stools, a shelf along the opposite wall with additional stools, and a single table. The place is very clean and there's nothing behind the counter that doesn't absolutely need to be there. Red Devil hot sauce seems to be the only luxury, ingredient-wise. They're only open until 6:30. So if you're planning on having dinner here, it better be an early one.


tacony palmyra said...

When you say it's probably the oldest in "the area" it sounds like you mean in all of Downtown Brooklyn, given the context. I have no idea what the oldest restaurant is, but Junior's opened in 1950, which makes it older than this place.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Junior's. Of course. You're right. So, one of the oldest.

fifilaru said...

I am almost sure I ate there about 35 years ago. My father and I then went at sat on a dock and looked at the water while we ate. It was really good.