Today I would be the plus one to Jacquline of “Pork Ninjas”, Instagram and blog fame. We were at “The Greek by Anatoli”, attending a media event, highlighting their new happy hour menu. This would be a new feature that the restaurant would host daily from 2-5pm. And today we would get a sneak peak of things to come.
As a disclaimer, when it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.
The restaurant was closed for the event and we, along with a group of others were able to enjoy the space fully. I have visited “The Greek” before and then was unable to immerse myself in their wonderful seating area. They had tables available on the patio and upper deck, but it was the ones at the very back of the restaurant, surrounding by black and white photos and under strung up lights, that was the place to be. Today I would get to be surrounded by it all, across from their island bar.
Alexi the owner of “The Greek”, showed us warming hospitality, and shared tidbits of the restaurant and himself during our stay. He greeted us all and gave us some background information on his restaurant, speaking with passion for his business, which is always a good attribute to have as a business owner.
The back wall was plastered over with a black and white mural of old Greece. The wall to the right was hung with actual family photos. They offered a glimpse into his childhood and his heritage. His family’s first restaurant opened its doors in 1984, this venture in Yaletown was his alone, and the second to have the name. They are also working on acquiring a three location in the near future.
As the sun peaked out, the patio with its picnic tables were offered as a viable space for us to dine in. However I was too enamoured by the ambiance we had indoors. The strung together lights and the hanging bulbs bathed the room in a golden luminescent glow. It offers a great vibe for a romantic dinner or a girls night out, helped along by a playlist of smooth vocals and up beats.
The food was described as being simple and clean, strong flavours like how grandmother does it. All within a more upbeat spot. They successfully combined traditional food with modern aesthetics.
The happy hour menu is an assembly of popular Greek appetizers, smaller servings perfect for sharing, so you can order them all and try a little bit of each. All the food is $6 per plate normally, but between March 27 to the 31st what is listed will only be $2 a plate. Our servings below may be a little different than what you would typically get. I have tried my best to ask questions and list those differences here, so that when you come and try them for yourself you know what you will be getting, and won’t be disappointed if it differs from what you see here. And at $2 a plate, I know you will make ever effort to come by during that week. You can’t even buy a loaf of bread for $2.
When asked about the decision to host happy hour, Alexis was honest. He acknowledge that he would not be making a profit during this time slot, but for him it was about bringing people in, and having them stay in the area after work. Where you see a lot of that in downtown, you don’t have the same gusto for happy hour in Yaletown. So this was his rally cry, his attempt to fill seats and gather the community.
We started with “Keftedes”, traditional pan fried meatballs served in a tomato sauce. Although I would classify the sauce as more of the juice to a tomato salsa. Watery, but a great accompaniment of chunks and liquid, to the hearty and thoroughly seasoned meatballs. Which were tasty, but did border on being a little too salty for my tastes.
I am not a fan of Dolmathes in general. “Dolmathes” are grape vine leaves stuffed with beef and rice, and these are cooked in avgolemeno broth. I don’t like the texture of the wilted and soggy leaves, even though they were prepared very tender here. Their pickled flavour isn’t appealing to me either. But the filling was nice. The beef was prepared like the meatball above, having a similar flavour, and show of the same quality.
I much preferred the “Spanakopita”, although like above, it’s wilted greens are a turn off to me visually and textural. I just don’t like way wilted and cooked greens feel on my tongue. But if I had to eat a serving of it, this would be the batch to force myself through. Fresh spinach, feta and herbs, wrapped in filo and baked. It was baked crispy and stuffed full. I really liked the flavour of the sharp cheese. So tasty, that it didn’t really need the tzaziki sauce that came with it on the size. When you order it, you will normally get two pies, just like the other two portion sizes above.
The “Calamari” was your standard battered and fried pieces of squid. It was your classic flavour served crispy with tzatziki for tang.
The “True Greek pork” souvlaki was the most memorable. Its name is due in part of the fact that pork is the true meat of Greece and traditional souvlaki is only prepared using pork. Here cubes of meat are skewered and grilled for a blackened char, then served kalamaki style on a pita with tzatziki on the side. Once again, when ordering this, you will only get enough for two tastes. The meat was a little tough, but well seasoned, it paired perfectly with the fluffy pita and the dill in the tzatziki. Definitely a good deal considering it’s $11 normally and here it is either $6, or $2 for that week.
During happy hour and their launch week the “Homous” with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley is set at $4. It is served with with a warm buttery pita for dipping into. This was my favourite dish. The homous was really delicious. A little chunky, and a lot delicious. It wasn’t so aggressive that it masked the taste of the butter on the pita. I think I ate two whole pita and certainly licked cleaned the homous dish.
And happy hour isn’t the same without drinks, so their menu also includes two $4 drink options and $6 glasses of red or white.
However, today we were able to try a few of their regular cocktails. Like the classic brunch ceasar with a grilled shrimp and pickled bean. The shrimp had a great grill, but the drink itself could have used more spices and a whole lot more tomato.
The juicy watermelon mojito as a visual delight with an actual watermelon slice for garnish. It was very mint forward with the refreshing quality of real watermelon juice.
Not on the happy hour menu, but offered regularly, we were treated to the most beautiful serving of salad that I have ever had. “Greek salad” with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, red onions, goat feta from Greece, capers, and olives. All the ingredients were chopped small and sliced thin for a more reasonable bites. It easily allowed you to get a little bit of everything on your fork. Including the addition of fried kale chips and micro greens, for an even greater aesthetic touch. Though be warned, this was done special for us, and not typically seen when you order it for yourself.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I have said it after my first visit and I will say it again after this one. I like the place for dressier style Greek food in an equally dressed up setting. And now with happy hour specials, there is another reason to visit. Don’t deny your cravings.
1043 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5P9