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March 7, 2021

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George’s Molon Lave invites diners to Greece

Small Battle Ground eatery takes pride in Mediterranean fare

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Baklava at George's Molon Lave.
Baklava at George's Molon Lave. (Rick Browne/for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

First, we’ll explain the restaurant name. In 490 B.C., 300 Spartans under King Leonidas held off more than 10,000 Persian soldiers at the battle of Thermopylae despite the Persian demand that the Spartans lay down their weapons. The King’s response: “Molon lave,” which roughly translated means “come and get them.”

So George’s Molon Lave’s feisty owner, 72-year-old George Vlachos, further translates that to invite potential customers. “We want people to come here and get great food,” he said.

So we did. And it was.

This small restaurant is a bit hidden, but well worth finding. It’s perched at the back of Battle Ground Village on Southeast Rasmussen Road. The restaurant transports diners to the Mediterranean both in its peaceful blue-and-white ambiance and in its cuisine.

The restaurant offers a warmly intimate dining room, but it was a nice day, so we chose the patio. We began with a Greek standard, saganaki, which is kefalotiri cheese flambeed tableside with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, accompanied by a basket of warm pita bread. It was a delicious, exotic and fun starter to our meal.

Other appetizers include tzatziki, hummus or feta dips, all with baskets of pita. Or we could have ventured into protein with steak or chicken strips with avgolemono (or lemon-egg) sauce.

Dining Out guide: George’s Molon Lave

Where: 1417 S.E. Rasmussen Blvd., Battle Ground.

Hours: 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 4:30 to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Contact: 360-687-7770.

Cost: Wine by the glass from $8-$10, by the bottle from $21-$55. Appetizers range from $7-$15, salads from $9-$10, meat entrees from $15-$40 (for a rack of lamb), a la carte Greek specialties (including three vegetarian offerings) from $8-$18, and seafood from $14-$20.

Health score: George’s Molon Lave received a score of 18 on Nov. 16. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.

Speaking of which, the avgolemono soup is a treat, with chicken stock, fresh lemon juice, a generous portion of tender chicken chunks, thick-cut and tender carrot coins, and perfectly cooked orzo. We loved the soup so much we almost ordered seconds.

We passed on both the Greek and horiatika salads, as full as we were with the soup and flaming cheese, but gave lingering glances when plates of each passed our table.

When ordering our entree, Vlachos was eager to explain each dish. He suggested I get the lamb chops instead of the kabobs because the meat was locally sourced. They were a generous size, tender, very flavorful and cooked perfectly with just a touch of herbs. They went perfectly with the lemon potatoes and asparagus on the plate.

My guest opted for the spanakopita (spinach, feta cheese and Greek spices in a wonderfully flaky and delicate filo pastry). I took a large taste and almost wished I had ordered this. But those lamb chops were awesome.

Seafood entrees include calamari, broiled halibut, marinated salmon and Shrimp George (shrimp, fresh tomatoes, onions and bell peppers, all sauteed in a special wine sauce with a blend of spices, served over orzo).

Other entrees that we can’t wait to try on our next visit include his moussaka (layers of meat, baked eggplant, zucchini, herbs and potatoes, topped with a bechamel sauce), pastitsio (a macaroni casserole covered with bechamel) and dolmathes (grape leaves stuffed with finely ground beef, rice and herbs, drizzled with avgolemono sauce). All of the entrees include soup or salad, lemon potatoes or Greek fries, fresh asparagus and pita bread. And, of course, we mustn’t forget the lamb, chicken or veggie gyros on our next visit, as well.

Vlachos said that some of the recipes are what his mother used to make in Greece and that all of their dishes are made from scratch, nothing pre-cooked, and are prepared by his son, the head chef of the restaurant. But Vlachos, with his attention to detail and Greek authenticity, is always there just to have a hand in his pride and joy.

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