Atmosphere: Several steps up from a roadside crab house, but still casual.
Price range: 65 cents (hot dog) to $4.25 (mousakka or pastitsio).
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (later, if necessary) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Special facilities: Accessible to the handicapped; booster chairs for children; parking.
Reservations: Possible for the large groups.
Credit cards: Master Charge and Visa/Bank Americard.
We usually break up a weekend trip to the Maryland-Delaware shore by having a seafood dinner at one of the casual, salty-looking crab houses en route. On a recent Sunday drive beck from the beach, we took a friend's advice and tried at Jimmy the Greek in Denton, Md., 11 miles east of Rte. 50 and 17 miles south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Being roughly half-way home, Denton is, logistically, the perfect place to stop. However, the town is in farming country: the rural setting never struck us as a hotbed for exotic ethnic food. We had our misgivings about a mousakka created in the land of crab cakes.
Although it looks like a roadside stand from the outside, inside Jimmy the Greek passes for Eastern Shore lavish. The restaurant is carpeted, has dark paneled walls and lively Greek music.
Our fellow diners were partly travelers from the beach and partly natives of Denton and its environs. We took heart to see local peopls there. It meant that Jimmy's wasn't banking on a transient trade but was also catering to repeat business.
Jimmy's takes its Greek heritage seriously. The paper placemats were maps of Greece and the menu led off with a quote by Sir Henry James Main: "Except the blind forces of nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in its origin."
With an introduction like that, who wouldn't concentrate on souvlaki or mousakka rather than pizza, hamburgers and chili dogs which are also on the menu. The Greek specialties ranged in prices from 95 cents for spinach pie (Spanakopita) to $4.25 for mousakka or pastitsio. In between were such tempting dishes as plaki-psari, rock fish in vegetable sauce for $1.50 and souvlaki sandwich of beef slices topped with yoghurt for $1.95.
My husband and I chose our Greek dishes: pastitsio, macaroni in a flavored meat sauce, for him; Greek salad for me. Our daughter, 12, loves eggplant and chose mousakka. Our son, 10, is less adventurous; we couldn't budge from a meatball sandwich. Our daughter's friend thought meatballs and spaghetti sounded better than anything else.
All the entrees, with the exception of the Greek salad, came with a small dinner salad which featured very crisp, good lettuce and an oil and vinegar dressing that was very heavy on the oregano.
We had a slightly longer wait for our main course than we like when we're on the road. We always feel pressed about traffic at the bridge, but the food was worth the 20-minute wait. The mousakka, which had a strong cinnamon taste, was accompanied by a slice of feta cheese and garlic bread. Our daughter liked it but was able to finish only about half. My husband's pastitsio was on the dry side but nicely flavored and, again, accompanied by feta cheese and bread. The Greek salad, $3.25, was a beautiful melange of lettuce, tomatoes, Greek olives,feta cheese, anchovies, green and red peppers and onions. It was accompanied by the same hot and butter-drenched garlic bread as the other dishes.
Our son found his meatball sandwich, $1.80, big enough to suit him but on the spicy side. Our daughter's friend enjoyed her meatballs and spaghetti because she likes spicy food. No one was able to finish an entree.
During our wait for our food, we studied what others were ordering. A couple near us were splitting a Greek salad, spinach pie and souvlaki. In retrospect that seemed like a more interesting way to try the dishes at Jimmy the Greek. That is, treat it like a Chinese restaurant; order several small dishes and taste everything.
Although the menu listed baklava or frozen yoghurt for dessert, we ab-ju stained. Our bill, which included five main courses, three sodas and three milks, came to $20. It may not have been the best Greek food we've ever had, but it was pretty good and considering the location, pretty surprising. Certainly, it was a pleasant and different way to break up the drive home.