Friday evening my wife and I thought we found a Greek restaurant we could enjoy in Ottawa. Since moving from the Toronto area last October, we had been looking for a Greek or Mediterranean restaurant to enjoy some Souvlaki at. Previously we had enjoyed Jonathan's Fine Foods in Aurora with delicious Souvlaki served alongside potatoes, rice and salad. Mr. Greek in Richmond Hill also provided a decent Greek inspired meal. Turns out we were a little spoiled and did not even know it.
Searching through the various online restaurant review databases, we discovered there is not one single restaurant specializing in Greek food that many Ottawa restaurant eaters had labelled as "outstanding" or "definitely go here!". That is until we saw the Greek Souvlaki Shack (258 Bank Street, Ottawa) which currently has a 94% approval rating on Urbanspoon.com. Lots of general positive comments but nothing mentioning the food as being outstanding. But with 199 votes and a high approval rating, there might be something to this place.
We arrived at 4:30 P.M. to an empty small restaurant. Upon entering we were warmly welcomed by a smiling waitress guiding us to a choice of three tables for two along the wall. Other tables in small 10 table restaurant seemed to be for larger parties of four to six people. After reviewing the menu I took a look around. Everything, short of the tables, seemed to have seen an Ikea inspired Swedish feel. Yes, those were Ikea picture frames with pictures taped inside, yes the chairs I sat on have the same Ikea famous allen key screws. But if you didn't know the Ikea brand, you would never have known, you would have thought it was a nicely decorated Greek restaurant.
Our waitress stopped by first to see if we wished drinks, which we ordered and then gave our food order.
The Order: 2 Pork Souvlaki Dinners (2 skewers per plate) with rice, potatoes and Greek Salad. 1 Can of Pepsi and 1 Glass of Water.
Fifteen minutes later our waitress returned with our freshly prepared pork souvlaki platters. Optically the food was well laid out. But would it also satisfy the taste buds?
I mistakenly dug into the pork souvlaki first. Sure the pork tasted fine but I nearly burnt my lips off it was so fresh off the grill. Kudos on the fresh preparedness of the food. Later on, after the Souvlaki had cooled I noticed the souvlaki tasted pretty good, not overly cooked and not under. Add a little tzatziki and you had a decently prepared souvlaki dinner.
The potatoes were the next victim. Some Greek restaurants like to add a little pizzazz by adding a twist traditional Greek style potatoes. Jonathan's Fine Foods in Aurora is great at this and usually not only do I have my potatoes but my wife's as well. The Greek Shack? Nothing, mediocre throw them on the plate fast food style potatoes. Not bad, but not great either.
The Greek salad looked promising. Optically the salad looked fine enough. The salad parts were all there with the tomatoes, lettuce, 2 black olives and sprinkled feta cheese. Taste wise the first couple of bites were fine. Half way through the salad though things started getting worse. The Greek Salad dressing was getting tangier by the fork full. At the end, I had to basically take my time as my throat could barely take it anymore. Good thing my wife didn't need two of her three potato wedges. The potato wedges I used to water down the tangy taste from the salad dressing.
Overall, the Greek Shack has some promising parts. It is located in a metro area screaming for quality Greek fare in a decent restaurant setting. The restaurant setting was there with nicely tiled floor, adquate seating and a slight Greek ambiance with framed Greek themed photos. Service wise the waitress was excellent along with the speed of the food preparation by the cook. Taste wise though the salad dressing needs some fine tuning with the rest being only average. My wife probably said it best, "the food was nothing better than what you would find in a food court". That is probably the main reason why the "Greek Souvlaki Shack" is not yet a "Greek Souvlaki House" or a mansion. With a little help though this little Greek restaurant could probably go places. But for now a mediocre Shack it is.
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