There are many wonderful Greek restaurants in Montreal so finding one as unique as Olive et Citron, on Monkland Avenue in NDG, was more than just a great find. A meal at this family-run restaurant is akin to being invited over for an exquisite feast prepared with old country love and attention by your Greek friend’s mom and dad.
Everything about our meal was a little different compared to other nights out enjoying Montreal’s Greek gastronomy. The atmosphere and decor of the restaurant, the presentation and taste of each dish, plus the warm and friendly hospitality made for a wonderful culinary exploration of a part of Greece that was new to us. Spiros, the dining room manager, explained that the family’s roots lie in northern Greece: Thessaloniki to be exact, and as such Citron et Olive stands apart.
Meal service began with Spiros serving up toasted, lightly-oiled pita slices with a delicate olive spread. He explained that olives and lemons are staples of any Greek meal, hence the name of the restaurant.
While enjoying the amuse bouche, we persused the menu of Greek culinary offerings. The table d’hote includes six offerings ranging from grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass and swordfish to lamb chops and chicken brochettes. Prices range from $17-$33 and include soup or salad and a home made dessert and coffee.There are many appetizers offered in addition to unique salads. The menu includes specialties from the grill such as meat platters (pork and chicken souvlaki, pork gyros, lamb chops and bifteki, seafood choices (married sardines, that’s not a typo, Sahanaki shrimp and mussels and Greek delicacies (such as Mousaka).
My dining companion has dietary restrictions but this menu did not disappoint: we ordered barley rusk served with grated tomato, feta cheese and olives. This appetizer, which is specially imported from Crete, was very unique and had a nice light taste. The olives were delicious and we soaked up all of the oil with the bread.
Spiros explained that much of the feta cheese we buy in the grocery store is 100% sheep milk whereas their high quality feta comes from a 30% goat and 70% sheep mixture. It was very, very tasty and highlights the family commitment to quality ingredients.
The namesake of the restaurant, the Olive et Citron salad, was an arugula-based salad served with an exquisite honey and balsamic dressing. “Everyone likes it — they order it for sharing or as a main course,” said Spiros. The salad was plush with corn, sesame seeds, walnuts, tomatoes, and green onions. Of course they also have Mediterranean and Greek salads.
I ordered the brochette platter. Usually it comes with either pork or chicken but Spiros treated me to one of each. The meat was juicy and flavourful and grilled perfectly. Spiros explained that their meat is marinated for 24 hours which makes all the difference. The roasted potato was simply marvelous with a coating of butter and a slight lemony-garlic taste.
On a previous night at Olive et Citron, I had the Swordfish and my companion had the Mediterranean Sea Bass. Mine was chunky yet juicy, charbroiled to perfection and my companion said that the Sea Bass melted in her mouth. The table d’hote lentil soup was hearty and piping hot. The beet side was very tasty over a bed of lettuce.
Spiros’ favourite dish is the octopus, which is boiled and then grilled with an ample amount of – what else – olives and lemon. Of course, the olive oil is imported from Greece.
Speaking of imports, so too is the wine and bottled beer. Greek beers include Vergina red lager, blonde lager and Mythos blonde. Ironically, the house wine is Italian.
The desserts are something to rave about. The Galaktoboureko is wonderful consisting of a phyllo dough filled with creamy, fresh custard. The Ravani is a Greek lemon cake. All desserts are made on location except for the Baklava. The reason for this is to avoid having nuts in the kitchen otherwise rendering the restaurant peanut-safe.
This trendy Monkland restaurant is located steps away from the corner of Girouard. The decor is rustic and bright with an airy environment and open kitchen. Many of Spiros’ clients are regulars who keep coming back for the high quality, freshly prepared dishes, all homemade by his parents. His dad, Sotiris, is the masterchef having worked for many years in the restaurant business while his mother, Popi, manages the kitchen and also cooks and prepares the fried dishes. Anastasia, his sister, manages the dining room and does some cooking as well.
With warmer weather on its way the terrasse will be open with 16 seats. A happy hour is served up between 5 and 7 PM with cocktails at seven dollars, two for $10. The restaurant is suitable for all ages and families too. Take-out is a popular choice here. Spiros’ family is welcoming, informative and helpful and we look forward to coming back and enjoying another wonderful meal real soon.
The menu indicates they offer authentic Greek cuisine. They couldn’t be more correct.
A new menu is expected out in a matter of days and you can see it all on their Facebook page.