It’s kind of funny when you realize something has come full circle in your life.
Here I am sitting in an airport lounge, in 2018, intent on writing a blog post about my recent ‘Greek restaurant’ experience at The Greek by Anatoli.
I’m about to board a flight to New Orleans to attend a Public Relations conference, and I am more than a little amused by life’s circular patterns in this moment.
You see, my very first solo-travel adventure, which happened way back in 2005, also involved a Public Relations conference. And it was held in Athens, Greece.
A trip down memory lane
I had wisely sandwiched that first trip with some days on either side of the conference, so that I could enjoy the city. Always do this if your schedule allows it!!*
Touring the historic ruins, visiting galleries, museums and churches, eating delicious Greek food, dodging the thousands of scooters, walking up and down steep hills…. it was a fun first solo trip. Some memorable foodie moments included:
- My first ever meal in Athens – a heavenly Moussaka at a cute taverna located in some alley. Back in those pre-smart phone days, I would just wander about to find a place I liked.
- A server drawing a bird’s nest on a paper table cloth to better explain a dessert to a mixed Polish/English speaking group I was hanging out with. None of us had ever eaten a dessert that resembled a toddler scribble before. So we ordered it, and it was the bomb! What was it? Kataifi and here’s a YouTube video on how to make it.
- Accepting a slice of spiced cake in a very old Orthodox Church by a very eager old woman, who was completely clad in black and kept grinning and nodding at me until I took a slice. Universal truth – all grandmas insist on feeding you. Homemade cake = yummy!
A Greek experience in Yaletown
So fast forward to 2018; I’m off to another PR conference, and while I won’t be eating Greek food in New Orleans (I’m doing Creole/ Cajun/ French all the way baby) – I did drop by The Greek by Anatoli just a few days ago. So here is what we ate & drank …
Thomas and I always say we need to slow down on ordering so many drinks all the time… but then we eye up the menu and say ‘F*** It’.
Each and every time.
At least we took it easy and stopped at one each this time. Baby steps! I ordered the Athena Spritz and he got the Sangria.
Verdict: I like the glass mine came in – but I’m not crazy about the lemon wedge on the rim. I only want lemon wedges for my water. I think a better (and classier) garnish option would be a curled orange rind in the drink itself or a dehydrated round orange slice on the rim.
Food is served as it’s ready at this restaurant – so it’s best to share whatever you are having. I’ve seen some people complain online about their food not coming out all at once for an entire table of solo-eaters. Which is a little befuddling to me. Mezze/ Tapas style restaurants don’t work that way. It’s all about ‘sharing is caring’!
So that means mostly Gluten-Free options for us, which luckily this restaurant has plenty of.
We ordered the Grilled Mushrooms & Fava Beans Purée (which we’d had before and loved) and the Souvlaki Platter (something new and meant for sharing as it’s huge).
The food took a while to come out – the restaurant got slammed 15 mins after was arrived, but wow, the food was so delicious! Worth the wait.
Both dishes came out in pans, which I find very rustic and endearing. We scarfed down the lot.
Smoke – The Good & the Bad:
The food at The Greek has this distinctly charred taste to it that is so satisfying.
If you take a peek into the kitchen you’re guaranteed to see a plume of smoke rising from the grill, being sucked up by an industrial exhaust, that then proceeds to belch out said smoke onto the patio area of Mainland Street. Why is this?
Maybe I’m a little fussy, but I am a little surprised the city is so cool with this arrangement. If you’ve ever walked through the cloud of smoke during peak dinner time – you know what I mean. It’s overwhelming. Yet if I were to judge by the PHAT Sports Bar patio guests, drinking beers, watching Sports, inhaling smoke… most people don’t seem to mind.
So on that note – I don’t know that I would ever want to sit on the patio at this restaurant. Which is a shame because patio dining is a very short-lived, fought-for privilege in Vancouver. But I will continue to go there and sit indoors.
We already know what we are ordering for next time – the lamb!
(*) In fact, I am heading in early and leaving later for this year’s New Orleans trip. I do as I preach.