IDAR-OBERSTEIN, Germany — This restaurant near the U.S. Army Garrison, Baumholder is the place to fix that craving for Greek food. The banner across the menu at Poseidon says it all: "Eating and Drinking like the Gods of Olympus."
About 20 kilometers north of Baumholder in the town of Idar-Oberstein, the biggest challenge for visitors is deciding what to order. The menu is thick and the options seem endless. The restaurant is something of an institution in town, serving up the souvlakis and just about every other type of Greek dish since 1992.
"This is a pure family business. One of us is always here working. When one person goes home (to Greece), the other person is here," said owner Angelo Tzanas, who runs the restaurant with his brother, sister and mother, who is known to regular patrons as "Big Mama."
Over the years, the restaurant has built close ties with the surrounding military community. But with the recent closure of the Army’s Strassburg Kaserne in Idar-Oberstein, some of the regulars have gone away.
At Poseidon, the staff is friendly and attentive. Statues of the ancient gods and goddesses, pottery and artwork are scattered throughout the restaurant. Traditional Greek music plays softly in the background, making for a cozy atmosphere. There’s also a small bar where you can relax if you arrive before your dinner party.
The meals at Poseidon kick off with a complimentary shot of ouzo, a chilled liqueur that is served before eating and helps to settle the stomach.
The main courses run the gamut. There’s an extensive seafood selection and a wide range of meat dishes that are grilled, oven-baked and pan-cooked. And of course there are all the old Greek standbys such as moussaka, gyros and fresh salads. A solid selection of Greek wines round out the menu, making for a complete dining experience.
On a recent visit, I started off with the dolmadakia — a rice, meat and herb mixture wrapped in grapevine leaves. After that I went with the pastitsio, a Greek version of lasagna. I washed it down with a glass of dry Greek wine and a complimentary after-dinner liqueur for good measure. The cost: 20 euros.
And when you arrive, be sure to say hello to Big Mama, whose actual name is Vasiliki. Over the years, she’s made friends with many of the soldiers passing through the Baumholder area.
"The Army kids come and they’re always very polite," Big Mama says. "I look at it like I have 3,000 kids."
Hours: Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch. Dinner: 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Prices: Appetizers from 5 to 7 euros; main courses 10 and 20 euros.
Clientele: Mostly German, though Americans are usually mixed into the dinner crowd.
Location: 2 Am Breschplatz, Idar-Oberstein