The McLean Restaurant is a reminder of something that seems to be vanishing, at least in our neck of the woods -- a real neighborhood restaurant. vIt's the kind of place where you can go for a pizza, a piece of pie or a full meal.
When you just can't face cooking, you can pack up the whole family and drop in. No reservations are necessary, and there is no fancy decor to live up to. iWhat you get is good food at very reasonable prices.
The restaurant has the freshly scrubbed look of being recently refurbished. The laminated plastic butcher block tabletops and the ceiling fans are both too trendy to have been there long. We heard that the previous decor was 1950-ish. Now it's pleasingly plain and simple, a room full of comfortable booths. The kitchen runs along one side, and if you're so inclined you can peer through the slats and watch the cooks at work.
Our waitress seemed to be as new as the furnishing. She had to be reminded to bring addition place settings and seemed to forget us once she had served the food. No matter. We weren't in a tearing hurry and certainly both the waitress and the manager were friendly and obliging.
As for the food, there is something for everybody. It's the perfect place for a group of individualists to dine. The house specialties are Greek, among them moussaka, stuffed grape leaves and Athenian-style broiled chicken. There are also American and Italian favorites and if that still doesn't strike your fancy, a couple of deli items are on the menu as well.
Our family went international and tried a cross section -- shish kebab from the house specialties, souvlaki from the sandwich side, spaghetti, a hamburger from the children's menu and, to round it all off, a pizza.
With the shish kebab and spaghetti dinners came a choice of soup or salad. The evening we dined there the soup was lentil: thick, homemade and excellent. The salad was not as fine but was certainly adequate. Its iceberg lettuce and wedges of tomato were enhanced by a tart, vinegary dressing heavily laced with oregano.
While we waited for our main courses, we did away with half a loaf of fresh bread, thickly encrusted with sesame seeds. Before we had time to regret its being finished, our dinners were in front of us.
The souvlaki platter, $3.45, was an inspired choice.(Souvlake is a Greek version of shish kebab, in which the meat is marinated before broiled.) The beef cubes, beautifully tender, adorned a large circle of warm, homemade pita bread, with just room enough left over for tomatoes, generous slices of onion, french fries, wedges of feta cheese and a cup of a zesty, creamy sauce filled with bits of onion. Nice to look at, it also was well prepared and delicious. w
The shish kebab, $6.75, was also good, tender and a perfect medium rare. With it came peppers, tomatoes, onions, rice pilaf and a bland mushroom sauce that we could have done without.
As usual, out 8-year-old went straight for a hamburger, $1.65 on the children's menu. It was a big, fairly thin patty served on a seeded roll. Other children's selections were spaghetti, a cheeseburger and a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich.
The 11-year-old, blessed with a bigger appetite, bypassed the children's menu and ordered a regular portion of spaghetti with meat sauce, $3.55. Although the pasta was a bit mushy, the sauce was meaty and thick, and for a change, not too sweet.
We all shared the pizza, $4.25 for a medium one with tomato and cheese. Even our pickiest pizza eater declared it a winner. The crust was medium thick, tasting fresh and homemade, and the amount of cheese did not overpower the lining of tomato.
Needless to say, after all this food we passed up baklava, cheesecake and pies. We plan to try them on our next visit.
The tab for the four of us came to $25.83, including tax, tip and smooth cream sodas.
:Hours: 10 a.m to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday. Atmosphere: Casual and friendly; varied menu. Price range: Dinners, $3.55 to $8.95; sandwiches, $2.55 to $3.15 (less at lunch); pizzas, $4.25 to $9.75; children's dishes, $1.65 for a hamburger to $2.65 for spaghetti with meatballs. Reservations: Not taken. Credit cards: No. Special features: High chairs and booster seats; caryout; parking lot, with sidewalk one step up from parking level.