In this month’s Washingtonian, Kate Nerenberg pays a visit to Yamas Mediterranean Grill in Bethesda and takes note of chef Mediha Keler‘s handcrafted gyro cones, which have “peppery meat sporting a crispy surface.”
The meat from a Kronos gyro cone sports a soft, almost mushy texture, which reminds me more of weisswurst than freshly sliced beef and lamb. The rotisserie broiler that cooks the cones ostensibly adds char to the meat, as does a quick trip to the griddle before stuffing the gyro strips into a pita. But neither cooking technique can cover up the essential squishiness of this processed meatloaf. What’s more, the loaf’s dominant flavors are salt, oregano, beef, and more salt, with only the slightest hint of gamey lamb.
And Keler’s special gyro meat? Let’s revisit Carman’s good words:
She’ll take the slices of beef and lamb that have been marinating in lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, cilantro, tarragon, mint, garlic, and other spices and start building her towers. She makes two to three rotisseries a day, each between 20 and 25 pounds. It takes about an hour for Keler to carefully layer one slice of meat after another until the tower is complete. She will then start butchering, trimming, and slicing the cuts of beef and lamb for the marinade; the slices will marinate at least overnight, and often longer, to help break down the tough muscles.
You can see the difference as soon as your gyro arrives at the table, wrapped in foil and lounging on a rectangular plate. The strips of meat are not uniform in any way. They are, in fact, not even strips; they’re irregular chunks and bits and slices, all browned and charred from their endless trips around the rotisserie. This stuff looks like fresh meat from a grill, not gyro Spam from a can. The flavor is deeply satisfying—savory, cool on the palate from all those herbs, and spiked with just enough lamb to give you the gamey-ness you want. You’ve likely never had a gyro like this.
And that sounds about right.
Photos by Darrow Montgomery