What makes a new restaurant stand out from the crowd? Is it excellent food? Maybe outstanding service? Could it be an attractive and comfortable venue? Or the perfect location? Or maybe it’s the convergence of all of those that make the newly-opened Estiatorio Kavos on Sherbrooke Street West a winning choice for Greek cuisine buffs.
George Sikiotis has created the right formula in establishing this new Greek restaurant. Together with his partner Tasso, they have put the emphasis on experiential dining. “We want our customers to gain an understanding of what we are creating for them,” George told us on a recent evening. “We want to be unique,” he said.
And what an experience we had from the moment we entered the multi-level restaurant. The location seems larger than it is thanks to its five “levels”, mirrors and modern lighting set against rustic wood, deep brown finishings and an original brick interior wall. Plenty of natural lighting splashed in through windows front and back until sunset.
But it’s the staff who truly bring the experience to the next level. From the greeting at the door to being ushered to the table you realize something special is going on here.
George was our server for the evening, just as he was a few months earlier when we had our first delightful dining experience here.
“I’m here to guide you and help you and hopefully teach you a little too,” he said cheerfully. He was certainly true to his word, describing and explaining our choices and answering a slew of questions. Incredibly, George recalled some of our choices from our previous visit and was very attentive to our food sensitivities and preferences.
This night my wife, Judy, and I were joined by our friends Heather and Joel who came with open minds and a healthy appetite to help me gain a wider perspective for this review.
We were offered both plain and sparkling water and as my beverage of choice I always expect, and was pleased to see, a full glass throughout the evening.
George ever so meticulously laid a white napkin and silverware beside each of us with attention to detail you would find in the finest restaurant and then introduced us to our wine steward, Peter, aka Panayoti. We would subsequently learn that George and Panayoti are very typical Greek names. Other staff at Kavos would also answer to the same name.
Peter recommended a somewhat sweet and full white wine by the name of Malagouisa Tetromythos from Achaia, Greece. He said that the flavour would lend itself to the salads and pretty much all other dishes.
We enjoyed the sweetness of the wine with the homemade pita breads, slightly piled with authentic taramas salty appetizers, made fresh on location. “This is what my mother makes at home,” George told us.
Spoiling us, before the main course would arrive, George set out a plate of oyster mushrooms sauteed in a glaze of reduced porto. Absolutely delicious. Next up, perfectly grilled vegetables and shrimp
Two salads were served. First up was a traditional Greek salad with carefully selected bright red tomato and cucumber with feta cheese imported from Greece in oak barrels. The second salad consisted of slivers of lettuce with crumbled pieces of feta and typical spices.
Peter returned to offer us a red portes wine from northwestern Greece. He explained that the full body would be just right for our main course that George had selected for us. “We want you to try something you’ve never had before,”George said of their specially imported wines.
Next he brought us a very large mediterranean sea bass. Their fish is imported and delivered fresh every other day. “We do sustainable fish,” George explained. The fish was cooked to perfection, suspended over a fire. It was garnished simply, with lemon juice and oregano, brushed with olive oil and garlic and dazzled in capers. He had his new chef who arrived a few months earlier from Greece, another Panayoti of course, remove all the bones, with tweezers! It was juicy and flavourful and easily served as a main course for two, and then some. “There’s always garlic in a Greek kitchen,” George hinted.
The side dishes kept coming. There were delicious, and healthy, lima beans in a light tomato sauce with feta cheese and a plate of deep green rapini, lightly oiled with a hint of garlic.
“The rapini is simple, clean flavour enhanced by salt and oil,” George explained. “The garnish of feta on the beans is a nice touch too.”
My friend Joel was enjoying immensely. “The visual presentation is lovely. I especially enjoy the story behind the dishes,” he said. “What an experience,” Heather added.
Out came exquisite, succulent lamb chops from New Zealand and even more giant blue tiger shrimps from the Indian Ocean, both grilled to perfection, juicy as can be and spiced just right. Joel and I couldn’t be happier.
I asked Joel what he enjoyed the most. His answer was slow in coming as there was no easy answer with everything so tasty and delectable. “I’d say the the unique taste of the salty shrimps with the covering of sweet grapes. And also, the mushroom. It was fantastic.”
And for Heather? “The zucchini chips over tzatziki was just wonderful.” Joel interrupted, “But the lamb chops were also delicious!”
Could we possibly eat another bite for dessert? Why not?
“Loukomades is a traditional dough ball that is served after church or Sunday school, homemade by Greek mothers,” George clarified. Made with reduced porto, imported Greek honey, crushed walnuts, homemade yogurt and drizzled over with grape chutney, it was the best possible ending to an incredible meal. Of course you’ll need a hot tea or a teaming cappuccino to wash the dough down but how sweet it is!
George and Tasso have a winning formula in Kavos. Maybe it’s Georges’ roots on the western coast of Greece, or perhaps his many years of experience in the restaurant business in Montreal, Alberta and in his native Greece.
“My mother loves that we buy our produce daily,” George boasted with pride explaining that they use many sources to choose the best ingredients for their praiseworthy authentic meals. “We make whatever we remember from Greece. It must be fresh and seasonal, not from a freezer,” George added.
Kavos opened last fall and boasts 80 seats inside and another 25 on their summer terrace out front. “We want you to relax, stay long, soak in the experience and enjoy,” said George. We took his advice as our meal ran over three hours.
George is keenly training his staff to be unique in their hospitality. I can certainly attest that he is doing a spectacular job.
Judy summarized, “It was more of an experience than a meal. I can’t wait to come back again.” I couldn’t agree more. Kavos is located at 4922 Sherbrooke Street West in Westmount and is open Monday to Saturday from 5:00PM-10: 00 PM and soon to be opening on Sundays. For reservations call 514-482-0707. Find them on their website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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