BY BRIAN CLAREY
Breakfast in the morning is a fine and natural thing — its etymology suggests the breaking of the night’s fast, after all, and what person does not like to be greeted upon waking with the smells of bacon frying and coffee bubbling?
But as a meal, breakfast will do any time of day. What is brunch but a fine, late breakfast? Breakfast for dinner is a favorite in my house. And sometimes it is right and proper to have breakfast not as the first meal of the day, but the last.
That’s how Jimmy the Greek Kitchen near Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem has made its bones: by touting breakfast all day, much appreciated by college bar-hoppers and third-shift workers and night owls of every stripe.
The breakfast menu itself is as it should be, a slate of egg plates, pancakes and waffles, sides that run from basic bacon to regional favorites like liver pudding.
And though I make my visit in the mid-evening, it is not breakfast I have in mind.
This is a diner, with a full host of burgers, sandwiches, salads and hot dishes. There is seafood, steaks and chops. And weekly specials include a country-fried steak, which sorely tempts me.
But I came in not for the breakfast or the diner fare. What lured me off University Parkway that evening was the promise of Mediterranean cooking implicit in the place’s name, and also because I was a fan of Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder when he was a football commentator for CBS. This was after he ran a successful bookmaking concern in Las Vegas but before he made on-air comments that the network construed as racist, comments that got him summarily fired.
The Greek cuisine at Jimmy’s is as expected: gyros, souvlaki, hummus and the like.
After I slid into the red Naugahyde booth under paintings of the Parthenon, I ordered the Greek sampler, with spanikopita, terapita olives, pepperoncini, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce.
I also asked for a piece of baklava, which my server suggested I get heated, and drizzled with chocolate.
“You can only get it that way from me,” she said. The baklava came out first —— fine by me because it was late and I was hungry. Microwaves had made the phyllo dough, ordinarily flaky and delicate, sodden and moist, yet I wolfed down the sweet pastry and rejoiced in its flavors of nuts and honey. And true to my server’s suggestion, the chocolate made it even better.
My Greek sampler plate was a thing of beauty, with wedges of spanikopita arranged with the olives, peppers and cheese around a generous portion of the creamy cucumber sauce.
Incidentally, I am allergic to cucumbers — they make me a little nauseous, so I normally stay away from them — but I make an exception for tzatziki, which is one of the best condiments known to humanity.
The spanikopita was fresh and marvelous, pressed like panini and with the phyllo layered and crisp as the gods intended. Slathered with tzatziki, it made a fine basis for a meal. The olives were dark and musky, and paired with pepperoncini slices and cubes of fresh feta made me lean back in my booth as I chewed and savored. Towards the end of the meal, I was stacking all the ingredients together and wolfing them down. I didn’t stop until there was nothing left on my plate but crumbs and bits.
At the tables around me, patrons tucked into waffles and eggs, but I had no regrets concerning my order. Maybe next time I hit Jimmy the Greek’s I will treat myself to a late-night breakfast. But more likely I will stick to the Greek stuff. Anyone can do fried eggs. But a good tzatziki sauce is harder to come by.
Jimmy the Greek Kitchen; 2806 University Parkway, Winston-Salem; 336.722.0184