Saturday, 27 October 2012

Grecos Wine Bar and Grill

Grecos has been open in Kingston since 1992 and, as their website (found here) boasts, serves freshly prepared classic Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant has deeply running Greek roots resulting in a menu complete with inspired entrees, delicacies, seafood, pasta and gourmet pizza. Our trip to Grecos this week served 2 purposes: first, to continue on our 40-week dining adventure and second, to celebrate Tonia's mom, Shirley's birthday.  Happy birthday, Shirley - it was lovely having you join us, and this week's blog is dedicated to you... Not sure if that's a gift or not, but we'll roll with it!

Our evening began quite appropriately.  We were greeted by a very engaging young server named Jake, who - after politely welcoming us with witty banter and questioning whether or not we had been to Grecos before - stated "Prepare to have your socks knocked off!"  While we indeed had been to Grecos before (in fact Todd had visited the night previous to this one with another friend... True story: twice in 2 nights), I couldn't leave the restaurant without thinking that Jake was right and first making sure that my socks were definitely on my feet.  In other words, I was impressed.

Jake adding some lemon to saganaki
During our visit, the tables quickly filled and the restaurant volume grew from a quiet "buzz" to a gentle "roar".  Nothing annoying or frustrating - just enough to let you know that the restaurant was busy and full of satisfied customers without the need to look around for proof. Some of the staff reported to dining customers that the restaurant was busy due to a show happening that evening at The Grand Theatre (another wonderful Kingston attraction - check out their schedule of events and shows here); however, I would not hesitate to bet money on the fact that Grecos is busy more often than not, and that the reasons behind this popularity would be large in number. In no time at all, I was perusing a good-sized menu (not a novel, but good variety of choice), thinking of how well priced things seemed to be.  I also found myself mesmerised at the sound of staff exclaiming "OPA!" while delivering saganaki to tables and setting it on fire (in the cooking world, they call this a flambĂ©... but I wasn't sure if I could say flambĂ©-ing or not...). It really is quite something to see. While servers in other restaurants concern themselves with taking the cork out of a wine bottle without spilling any, here, they hold a pan of cheese next to dining customers and light it on fire without burning off a single eyebrow... certainly not a skill within my realm of abilities; but I'm okay with leaving it to the pros.  

Bruschetta & French Onion
Cauliflower and Cabbage
Jake quickly offered to give us the run-down of some fantastic specials for the evening - a list that left me impressed by his memory and knowledge of the menu. Adding to his recall of items, Jake could describe flavours and special features of each and every one, making everything a little more tempting.  Samer's interests were quickly peaked to the "spicy PEI mussels" that were being offered (and I was quickly reminded of my good friend, Grant - a born and raised islander who would have smiled from ear to ear at the thought of the dish), but as we prepared to order, my curiosity remained with the blazing cheese - leading us to ordering some for the table.
Athenian Shrimp

Other orders? Here's the run-down:

Carrie: Bruschetta with feta cheese and French onion soup

Tonia and Shirley: Souvlaki served with Greek salad, rice and potatoes

Samer: Chicken kebab served with salad, rice and potatoes

Todd: Veggie kebab (yesterday!) and Cauliflower and cabbage soup to start with Athenian shrimp as a main (today!)

Bread and "Pink Dip"
Shortly after ordering, Jake returned with a basket of bread and what I think was Taramosalata (my apologies to Grecos if this is incorrect!) - a creamy pink dip. Now, since I was a kid, I have tried to push myself to try things before I know what is in them because I think that I really limited my palate while watching my Mom add certain ingredients to dishes, assuming I wouldn't like them and then being unwilling to try.  This dip would have absolutely fallen in the "no thanks" category if I knew before eating it that it contains fish roe - but believe me: it is delicious. If you are hesitant, open your mind and give it a try. Nothing about the flavour said "fishy" to me - and I am not a fan of fish in general.  I also thought that the free bread basket was a nice touch that I have always believed should be offered by all restaurants.  After all, I was going out to eat because I was hungry!


The bread on the table was also a nice addition to the saganaki and Samer's mussels that were soon delievered.  While the saganaki wasn't for everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed not only the presentation (seriously - can't get over fire on a plate), but the salty flavour and gooey texture as well. 

As our main courses came, Jake continued to impress.  He was courteous, friendly, kept the laughs coming and our glasses full.  Even with a restaurant that continued to get busier, we were not forgotten - and the food certainly won't be forgotten by us. Very quickly, we all dug in to our delicious plates, and enjoyed every bite.  At the end of the meal, we were absolutely stuffed, but didn't hesitate to share bites of the complementary caramel crunch cake that was brought for Shirley on her birthday (also a very nice touch!) and finish everything off with an Ovation (the mint-chocolate treat given to all patrons... although, I think that in hindsight, Grecos deserved an ovation as well - just another kind!).

Yummy Bruschetta!
All in all, a great experience this week at Grecos. The proof is in the pudding... and the pudding in our case is the almighty FORK RATING SYSTEM:

Carrie: 5 forks! Even though I continuously made a fool of myself by dropping the piled-high bruschetta topping on my lap while biting into it rather than using a knife and fork, I absolutely loved the flavour of it and the soup. I would probably give more than 5 forks if service could also be brought into account (THANKS, JAKE!!)

Tonia: 5 forks! Tonia loved every part of her meal - from the saganaki to the souvlaki to the whipped cream on the caramel crunch cake. 

Shirley: 5 forks! Loved the food and it's presentation.

Todd: 5 forks! (In fact, Todd wanted to add that he would have given the restaurant 5 forks yesterday as well... now that's good food!!)

Samer: 5 forks! Samer especially liked the sauce on the mussels and said that he thought that everything was really good!

What was left of the Caramel Crunch Cake
Overall Score: 5 FORKS!  There has to be a first time for everything - and while I very much hope that we love the 37 restaurants remaining enough to give them 5 forks, I'm not convinced it will happen.  Bravo, Grecos!!

Next week, check in to read the results of our trip to The Pasta Shelf on Ontario Street!

Grecos Wine Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

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