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THE OTHER PLACE

Every city needs a good, inexpensive diner where the food is consistent and the atmosphere relaxed. The Other Place has been playing that role for years, with a brief interruption several weeks ago to relocate to a larger, cleaner building right next door. Those accustomed to frequenting the place went through withdrawal pains for the few months the Greek cafe was under reconstruction.

But it was definitely worth the wait. The former site of the Other Place was its own worst enemy. Located in the first story of an old house adjacent to a questionable-looking bar, it wasn't exactly what you'd call immaculate. There are some people to whom the term "greasy spoon" does not appeal.Even they would be delighted, however, with the Other Place's sparkling new dining room and kitchen. It's much bigger and lighter, and there's even a new, expanded parking lot out back. Be forewarned, however, the entrance is a little tricky. Although the restaurant sits on 300 South, the front door is in the back of the building, near the parking lot accessible only from the southwest side of 500 East.

Once you get this down however, be prepared for a simple, inexpensive feast, morning, noon or night. The breakfasts, served any time, feature massive omelettes. You'd swear they used an entire carton of eggs, but the waitress confided in me they only use three eggs. It's just that they stuff the omelette so full of other fresh ingredients. My favorites are the Vegetarian, with green peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and feta cheese, for $5.25, and the Gyro, stuffed with onions, peppers, tomatoes, feta and Gyro meat, for $5.55. All omelettes come with substantial portions of hash browns, toast and jam.

Many people go to the Other Place just for the French toast, which is arguably some of the best in the city. The cooks dip thick slabs of sourdough bread in a light batter and fry it until it's golden. All right, so this is not exactly a restaurant for the cholesterol conscious. Few places that specialize in American breakfasts are.

They do, however, offer some hearty salads, which are excellent. You have to know the menu. What's listed only as the "Special House Salad" for $5.35 is actually the Greek salad, with lettuce. The Greek Salad is chunks of tomatoes, feta cheese and cucumbers mixed with onions, Greek olives, and peppers, sans lettuce, for $4.95. Both are inundated with a tasty house dressing, made mostly of olive oil, vinegar and oregano. The salads come with generous slices of Greek bread and are so large you'll be hard pressed to finish them. There's also a Greek salad with marinated chicken, and chicken and Greek pasta salads, which are very similar.

My favorite main dish is listed with the appetizers, merely as "Mezedakia," for $8.95. It's a plate brimming with spicy pieces of mari-nated pork, feta cheese, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and olives, plus their tender Dolmathes - grape leaves stuffed with meat, rice and onions, and seasoned with dill and parsley. It's served with a giant portion of Greek garlic bread and can be ordered as an intimate meal for two at $15.95.

The traditional Moussaka, which is sometimes described as "Greek lasagne" and is made with seasoned ground beef, potatoes, egg plant and a number of other vegetables, for $7.55, is also very good, as is the roast leg of lamb, $8.95; and the marinated chicken over rice, $7.95. All dinners come with a rich vegetable soup, an ample house salad with feta, the vegetable of the day and dessert.

The desserts are simple and satisfying. You'll want to try either their homemade rice pudding topped with whipped cream and cinnamon, or the baklava they proudly concoct on the premises. Both are $1.45.

Other recommended meals are their pork and chicken souvlaki; marinated, skewered meat served with salad and fries, for $5.45. Their Gyro sandwich and their feta burger, both at $5.25, are also worth ordering.

The service is prompt and consists mostly of waitresses dressed in the traditional back skirt and white blouse. They're great with the children from the numerous families who dine there and are patient with the college students who come to drink coffee and discuss physics. It's not a refined atmosphere but a friendly, comfortable one that almost anyone can enjoy.

Rating: * * *

The Other Place, 469 E. 300 South, 521-6467. Open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Accepts checks, Visa and Mastercard. Reservations not neccesary.