Taking a recommendation from a friend of a friend, we found ourselves at one of the two Greek restaurants, facing each other on Columbia Street. We had missed our chance to complete a diagonal reverse stall parking in front, so were forced to lap around the block. Good thing too as it led us to free parking in the back, with an entrance that didn’t require walking upstairs to enter the dining area. 

It was slow on a Wednesday at 8pm. The GM, Stefan (probably who the restaurant was named after) was working the floor and kitchen along with one server and two kitchen hands. We saw him seating tables in the begin of our dinner, and hosing down the restaurant’s exterior when we left. 
The space was huge with vaulted ceilings and enough room for a stage amongst all the dining tables. On the stage were musical instruments and a large novelty treble clef. The entire place was made alive with abundant greenery. Potted plants balancing on ledges and a forest of leaves and branches assemble in the rafters. This, along with the mismatched knick knacks, multiple shelves carrying house wares, and the toy plane and wooden wheel suspended in mid air gave “Stefano” a messy look. It felt crowded despite having only 5 of the 40 plus table being occupied. I did not get the slightest impression of a lounge vibe from any of these things. Maybe I have to come back on Friday or Saturday for their dining and dancing, and actually see the instruments put to use. 
We had our choice so grabbed a seat by the window. Our view, an empty street. We sat to look over a very impressive menu. The decor may have put me off, but the menu brought me back on. With so many choices the pickiest of eaters is sure to find something. 

Once I saw them I had to order them. I am a big fan of platters. I love ordering something, and being able to get more than just one variety. I feel they are the best deals, and you get to try more things. At “Stefano’s” they had platters organized between appetizers and entrees, then by price point. The more pricier dishes there are in your mix, the more you are looking to pay. Appetizers platters went from $26-36. And a dinner platter for two was either $50 or 55. And once again for how many different components you get it is worth it. You are essentially getting five smaller sized dishes for the price of 2 regular ones. You are paying for the hassle it is to make 5 different dishes at once and bring them all together. 
But if you don’t want all that food, and instead have a specific something else jump out; you can choose from the remainder of the menu. It includes everything Greek and then some dishes not so Greek. Maybe they thought, we still have room on the menu let’s fill it with other popular flavours from around the world. There is a “chicken cordon bleu” with French influences, a “halibut teriyaki” with Japanese flavourings, and a “chicken schnitzel” reminiscent of German cuisine. After a while of filtered reading, I concluded there were too many things on the menu, with no solid focus on either. It gives the impression that everything was just cooked to pass, not to impress. The chef in the kitchen looked East Indian, if this was the case, I am surprised at her skillful ability to orchestrate authentic Greek. 

Appetizer platter for two $26 with kalamari, spanakopita, meatballs, dolmades, fried zucchini, homous, tzatziki, and pita bread. 
Kalamari, young squid lightly floured and deep fried. This we found the best out of the entire platter. Yet it was no different than all the other fried kalamari available anywhere. It was and mild and chewy, with a great tasting breading. They are made even better, as is the case with everything else, when you coat each morsel in heavy tzatziki sauce. Both the sauces were a little bland. Tzatziki, yogurt and chopped cucumber mixed with fresh garlic, dill, and olive oil. Homous, chickpeas puréed with garlic, olive oil, and a touch of lemon. The tzatziki could have been more tangy. And the homous could have done with more spices. But the pita was a perfect accompaniment to the two, soft and lighty buttered, it enhanced the flavours of both. 
Spanakopita, tender spinach leaves with feta cheese, herbs and spices; rolled into pilo pastry and then baked. It was delicious and flakey, you are able to ignore the inevitable oiliness because it tasted so good. It was at its best at its hottest, so I suggest tackle this one first. 
Souzoukaia, Greek style meatballs topped with tomato sauce and feta, then baked in the oven. They were only slightly on the drier side, but had a great mix of herbs embedded into each bite Yet it did not feel natural to eat them as they were, they felt like they needed pasta between them or a sub sandwich beneath them. The flavour profile just felt incomplete. 
The deep fried zucchini sticks were piled on the bottom, and we didn’t get to them until they were soggy with condensation. It would have been nice to bite into them without having the breading fall a part And to get a great snap from a crunchy zucchini stick. 
Dolmades, ground beef and rice wrapped in grape leaves, then topped with a lemon dill sauce. I didn’t like the texture, look, or taste of the leaves; so after a bite I picked the insides out. That is the great part of platters, you get to try new things without committing to a whole plate of them, and having it possibly go to waste. If you don’t like something, chances are you will only get a little of it anyways. 
I really enjoyed the share platter for two. It offered variety and gave us a chance to try Greek appetizers we otherwise wouldn’t dare to. Plus I feel it is the best value for my dollar. My only criticism is the presentation. Everything was piled up high, flavours crossed, and things got soggy. I suggest a larger plate and taking the time to separate each component to properly highlight them. That would have made this ok platter into an amazing one. We eat with our eyes before we do with our mouths. 

Since we were in the sharing and trying new things mood we ordered the mixed souvlaki entree. Also, I usually judge a Greek place by the caliber of its souvlaki. With this plate that was a mixing of chicken, beef, and lamb; I was able to properly assess each one. The souvlaki came with your usual Greek accompaniments of salad, rice and potatoes. There was an option to choose a ceasar salad over the Greek. But when in Greece… The salad was room temperature, just the way I like it. The edges weren’t wilted and the flesh of each cucumber and tomato was crisp. I could tell these were made as ordered and not just chopped up and frozen. 
The potatoes were soft and tender, they broke down easily with the slightest pressure from a fork. The rice they sat on was a tomato based rice pilaf. A welcomed twist to the usual yellow garlic version seen on other souvlaki plates. 
The meats were marinaded, skewered and grilled. Each one was well seasoned and not the least but dry, it had good flavoring and coloring from the grilling process. Surprising, as you often find chicken souvlaki over cooked, where as at “Stefano”, they got it just right and rightly tender. 

With only one server and a limited kitchen staff our food did take longer to come and it was a bit of a challenge to hail our waitress, the only waitress. It is understandable as she didn’t even have enough time to check in on what we thought of the food, after our first bites. 

Would I come back? – Yes and No. New Westminster is a little far for me to go to for a plate of meat and potatoes with rice. But if I was to come here with a large group to try their other share platters, that would be a completely different story. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes. It is easy to get to with ample free parking in the back and a lot more pay for metered ones in the front. The area is quieter and the restaurant large, so chances are no reservations are needed and you have a higher probability of being seated upon entry. The food is good and the six share platter options ensure that you can find what you like, and try something you didn’t think you would. Don’t deny your cravings. 

315 Columbia Street, New Westminister BC, V3L 1A7

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