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In Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Richard Wrangham persuasively expounds the exciting idea that the invention of cooking was the crucial step that allowed prehumans to evolve into Homo sapiens, with a big brain, defined sex roles, and ground-dwelling lifestyle. The writing style is simple but dry, sometimes repetitive and defensive — and I hope the science is more accurate than the author’s concepts about modern foodstuffs. (His “recipe” for foie gras is an over-elaborate hoot, and he swallows unquestioningly all the myths about Kobe beef.) But if you’re curious about how food made us what we are, the ideas are red hot!

Apollonia Greek Bistro
***1/2
(Very Good to Excellent)
Costa Verde Shopping Center, 8650 Genesee Avenue (just north of Nobel Drive), UTC, 858-455-1535, apolloniabistro.com.
HOURS: Sunday–Thursday 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m., weekends until 10:00.
PRICES: Soups, appetizers, and dips, $3.19–$7.69 (combo $14); salads, $5–$9 (more with added proteins); sandwiches, $6.29–$8.29; entrées, $11–$19 (including combos). Desserts, $2.39–$6.29.
CUISINE AND BEVERAGES: Wide array of Greek dishes includes seafood and vegetarian entrées. Well-chosen, affordable international wines (loads under $30); full bar, including Greek beer and wines, cocktails.
PICK HITS: Taramasalata (cod roe mousse), rice-stuffed grape leaves, Horiatiki salad with lentil pilaf, moussaka, spinach pastitsio, Imam Bayaldi, desserts. Good bet: yemista (zucchini stuffed with bulgur).
NEED TO KNOW: Numerous choices for vegetarians and vegans (just brush off the feta fluff). Roofed outdoor patio. Kiddie menu, takeout, reasonably priced banquet menus. Service inconsistent, probably best on weeknights. Very busy and potentially noisy on weekends; for quiet, reserve ahead for patio.

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Comments

millerowski Sept. 9, 2009 @ 5:55 p.m.

I have long been a fan of Apollonia ever since it was Aesop's Tables. When it was Aesop's, the menu was not as interesting as it now is, but the food was earthy, delicious, and consistent. The service was nearly exuberant in the old days with plenty of "OH PA!" I agree with Ms. Wise on just about everything in the review. However, I was able to get some rare lamb once by over-exaggerating my case: I asked for blood rare and stressed that I was not kidding. It's best to go there with a "posse" or be prepared to take home plenty of leftovers. There's just too much to sample. The appetizer platters themselves are meals. My memories of languid evenings on Greek isles lead me always to order retsina. I know most people loathe the stuff, think it tastes like turpentine, but to me it is refreshing, it goes so perfectly with kalamatas, feta, and other appetizers, and it's quintessentially Greek. (I'm no ouzo fan, though; I prefer Metaxa.) The $20 Food Week menu looks great, but be prepared to add on! Thanks, Ms. Wise, for putting this place back in the public eye where it belongs! Oh Pa!

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Posse_Dave Sept. 12, 2009 @ 3:21 p.m.

Marty & I have eaten there a number times over the past 2-3 years. Naomi's comments are right on the mark. Any experience on how this compares with the menu at PB's Cafe Athena? We've eaten there, too, and our recollection is that the PB menu wasn't as varied.

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