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Ouzeri Estiatorio


Eating my way through Greek town

By: Alexa Keeler

Welcome! This corner of On the Danforth Online will document my exploration of authentic Greek cuisine; both restaurant-made and homemade.

A Traditional Ouzeria in Greece

Traditionally, an ouzeria is a type of Greek tavern that serves Greek liquor and mezedes, which are small finger foods. Regardless of the modest satisfaction the name Ouzeri suggests, this restaurant is more of a humbling experience than a humble place. Possibly the most understated for its quality, Ouzeri presents some of the finest traditional Greek cuisine on the Danforth.

Because I enjoy a good buzz as well as the next person, I ordered a glass of wine to sip before the meal. In all honesty, I am not sure if it was due to my insane hunger, or if it really was the wine itself, but this was probably some of the best I have had. I chose the Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah from Persepolis ($8.95). Sweetness from the blackberry was cut with spicy pepper, and it smelled like an old oak cigar box.

My friend and I began our meal with the Ouzeri Salad ($8.95). It consisted of wedged tomatoes, crumbled feta, and red onion atop a bed of baby greens, lightly dressed with an herbed balsamic vinaigrette. It was tangy, creamy, and light, which provided the perfect starter to the main event.

For curiosity’s sake, and because it is Ouzeri’s logo, we ordered the Octopodi Skaras ($16.95). The octopus was grilled in a dressing of olive oil and fresh lemon sauce. The consistency was soft, moist, and spongy – not at all chewy. The lemon provided a complimentary tang.

For the main event we ordered the Skaras Pikilia ($44.95) – a meat platter of marinated, grilled lamb chops, quails, chicken breasts, and loukaniko (cured pork sausage infused with orange photodldszest), served with a generous helping of Tzatziki and lemon wedges for flavouring. We also ordered the Grilled Vegetables ($9.95), which consisted of lightly charred and basil-dusted red pepper, green pepper, eggplant discs, and halved zucchini.

The meat dish was phenomenal. They were similar enough in texture and taste so as not to diverge from the overall theme of the dish. The lamb chops were served medium-rare, upon request. They were quite tender, and carried a smoky aroma and flavour. The quail was well seasoned with oregano and a subtle honey glaze. It was very tasty, albeit boney, as these small birds tend to be. The chicken breast was so tender that it peeled away from the mass in moist, succulent pieces.

IMG_00000169Last of all: the loukaniko. This sausage literally made my mouth water. The buttery, orangey aftertaste faded slowly, like a lingering ghost, building a craving that I knew would haunt me long after the meal was over. I have since added loukaniko to the ever-growing caché of my food infatuations.

After this kind of culinary excellence, we couldn’t turn down desert. We shared a sticky and flakey square of their homemade Baklava. Traditionally, Baklava is a filo pastry, arranged in layers between crushed nuts and distilled Greek honey. This desert featured crushed walnuts and pistachios, which added a rich and crunchy texture.

Our server, John, was attentive but not pushy or over-enthusiastic. He knew he did not need to hustle for a generous tip; the food and his polite thoughtfulness did the work for him. When we were wrapping up the meal, we were offered coffee or tea. When my friend asked if their coffee was any good, John told us that it “isn’t amazing, but it’s pretty good.” His honest answer was surprising, as it is rare to find a waiter that won’t praise the items on their menu. Honesty goes a long way.

Although the coffee was, indeed, by no means “amazing,” the rest of the fare was nothing short of. We will surely return to Ouzeri time and time again.


Ouzeri is located in Toronto at 500A Danforth Ave.

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