I was excited to celebrate the summer solstice evening with my friend Dennis. Having just come back from his work trip to China, he must have tons of stories of living there that I wanted to hear. As he got off work a little late, we decided to meet up at Cactus Club Cafe near his office in Richmond. Looking at their food menu at Cactus, I muttered to myself… The food here is just so boring! We just paid for the drinks and jumped on the skytrain heading downtown. As Dennis wanted to eat something ethnic but not Asian, and I remembered walking by this Greek restaurant in Yaletown not too long ago, we soon found ourselves sitting on the patio at The Greek by Anatoli. It was such a beautiful evening with so much sunlight still, totally a benefit from the longest day of the year. This small patio is definitely a nice spot in the summer, which you don’t find at a lot of the Greek restaurants in the City.
We couldn’t resist their Monday drink special, with 40% off on their house wine bottles. Their house red wine, Anatoli Kokkivo ($40/bottle) is a Meritage blend produced in BC and branded with the restaurant name. While having a fuller body with big strong spicy notes, which is quite suitable for Greek dishes like lamb roast, it was also pretty drinkable on its own.
We ordered the Calamari ($14) as a starter. The sizeable rings were sweet, tender and meaty, and seemed to be cut from some fresh-from-the-sea giant squid. While some might think the fried squid could be a little crispier with a bit more batter on, I quite liked how light the breading was. The tzatziki was quite tasty as well. The portion seemed quite generous and impressive but apparently we had not seen the size of their main dishes yet
The Country Lamb ($28) was easily the most visually stunning dish of all the Greek Restaurants I have been to. The enormous piece of lamb shoulder was served in a roasting pan, cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection, with some potatoes and other fresh vegetables of different vibrant colours on the side, and sitting on top of a bed of pilaf rice. The presentation was rustic but also aesthetically pleasing with the little colourful details like the finely chopped fresh parley scattered all over the roasting pan and the bright yellow cheese cloth used for wrapping the lemon. The counting of sensory pleasures continued when I detected an incredible aroma from the lemony lamb jus. And finally the tender lamb was so succulent and satisfying. Although the vegetables could be cooked a little better, but the presentation and the taste of the lamb had already killed it for the dish.
Our dinner here at The Greek by Anatoli was a great experience. Their small patio was cute and made a pleasant spot for summer evenings. We found the quality of the ingredients quite good in our dishes. The country lamb dish could easily feed 2-3 people and it is quite the deal. And finally, their Monday wine deal is just irresistible.