This is the second stop of my Milwaukee-area Eastern European grocery tour (the first installment is here). Parthenon Foods is not a Russian grocery store—it’s owned by Greek immigrants—-but it sells all the usual Eastern European goodies, as well as lots of Mediterannean and Middle Eastern items.
It may look like a rundown quickie mart from the outside, but this store has an excellent selection and very friendly, if sometimes overbearing, service. The isles are cramped with stuff (jars of picked vegetables and souvenir plates by the register, bags of spices and rice everywhere), so be careful when maneuvering your way through the store—you may knock something over.
Location: 9131 W. Cleveland Ave., West Allis, 414-321-5522.
Atmosphere: See intro.
Customer Service: Super-duper friendly. You will be asked if you need help at least twice during your visit. If you’re overloaded with bags, the owner may help you carry your purchases to your car.
Product Selection: A large selection of olive oil, lots of pickled vegetables and yummy spreads like lutenitsa, spices, pasta, unusual grains like buckwheat and millet, a small liquor department, cheese, Greek yogurt and kefir, Russian and Polish candy, pickled and smoked fish, and lamb and fresh fish on Wednesday. Also some frozen, pre-made stuff, like dumplings and pierogis. You can see more on Parthenon's Web site.
Pricing: Reasonable. Good deals on deli items like olives and cheese.
Buy: I love the creamy, soft French feta sold at the deli. The halvah, sold by weight, is pretty good, too.
Avoid: I don’t remember any duds, but admittedly I haven’t sampled my way through most of the deli and meat/fish selections.
Final Rating: ****1/2
*Soviet cafeteria food
**Day-old buckwheat kasha
***Borsch made by a non-native
**** Babushka’s homemade pirozhki
*****Black caviar on a buttered baguette and a shot of chilled vodka