The Greek by Anatoli

Photo by Oleksii Khodakivskiy on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash

                        Photo by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash

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 …

Cocktails

Cocktails:

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.

Souvlaki Platter

Food:

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.

Mushrooms & Fava Beans

 

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!

Side Notes:

(*)  In fact, I am heading in early and leaving later for this year’s New Orleans trip. I do as I preach.

 Feature Image Credit: Photo by Oleksii Khodakivskiy on Unsplash

 

 

 

Burger Cravings at Cactus Club Yaletown

Crusty Chicken Sandwich

This post is about burgers, but first…. a Geeky Intro: 

According to research conducted by Technomic … Canadian burger consumption is on the rise once more.

“Burger consumption has benefited from an increased emphasis on quality and sourcing, particularly as it relates to domestic beef, as well as operators’ ability to adapt the classic burger to modern demands through menu development,” explains Anne Mills, manager of consumer insights at Technomic. “Going forward, routinely innovating with new flavours, particularly sauces and premium toppings, will be key as expectations continue to rise for unique burgers.”

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • 36% of consumers have a preferred restaurant that they almost always go to for their burger occasions (up from 30% in 2015)
  • 40% of 18- to 34-year-olds says it’s very important that restaurants offer burgers with new and unique flavours, compared to 22% of older consumers
  • 56% of consumers say it’s very important that they can customize burger toppings

Aside from ‘toppings’, I would say just being able to customize period. That’s definitely a ‘modern demand’ that’s HUGELY in demand now, thanks to diners with intolerances.

  • Are you Gluten Free? No Problem – we have GF buns.
  • Are you Lactose Intolerant? Neverfear! We can hold the cheese and provide non-creamy toppings instead.
  • Do you want a lighter option but also really want a juicy burger and feel conflicted? Easy! We can swap out the fries for a side salad instead.

It’s so versatile and user friendly for customers that dine in group.

So easy to successfully implement on the production side, i.e. the kitchen.

No wonder we’re seeing burgers make a resurgence on menus, and that customers are loving it and aiding to its sustained growth by ordering them more often!

My stats:

  • 99.9% of the times that I eat burgers with my boyfriend it is because of some prompt I gave earlier in the week. Either that I had eaten one already, or mentioned I’m kinda craving one, or mentioned the word ‘burger’ at all really… haha

We’ll either order-in or go somewhere nearby that can cater to my boyfriend’s GF needs. That place is more often than not – Cactus Club in Yaletown. I’m not one to really like chains, but Cactus Club sure does make my life easier when I want to enjoy an ‘eating burgers’ experience with someone.

You know… that feeling of ‘OMG this is SO DELICIOUS, and decadent. Glorious and Sinful’. A Food Orgasm.

So this is what happened last Saturday night when we dropped by Cactus Club.

He got the Feenie burger (GF bun) with yam fries (substitution) and I ordered the Crispy Chicken Sandwich with regular fries.

We were all in.

Burgers at Cactus Club Restaurant

Both dishes were created by Chef Rob Feenie (who in 2005 became the first Canadian to win on the show ‘Iron Chef America’). Even award winning chefs are putting an effort into branding their signature burger experiences.

  • The Feenie Burger: smashed certified angus beef, sautéed mushrooms, aged cheddar, smoked bacon, red relish, mayo, ketchup, mustard
  • Rob’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich: spicy panko-crusted chicken, swiss cheese, sambal mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion

Worth every bite.