Monday, August 4, 2014

Anatoli Souvlaki a solid choice for Greek food

Anatoli Souvlaki on Urbanspoon

Continuing my tour of MealShare restaurants, last Friday I went with a couple of diners to Anatoli Souvlaki in North Vancouver. It is basically across the street from the very well attended Twilight Market at the Shipyards, and perhaps for that reason it was busy till past 9 PM. Despite the width of the store front, it is a large and deep restaurant, so chances are even on a seemingly busy night, while you might not get a patio seat, you will probably still get a seat somewhere.

Service is friendly and attentive: I was intercepted almost immediately by a server and led to a table for my reservation. Water is regularly topped up. It felt like there was a sincere desire for you to have a good experience, which helped to make up for some of the unfortunate shortfalls in the restaurant:

For example, our two square tables were wobbly. The apparent fix were old-looking pieces of cardboard shoved under one of the legs. While a older wobbly table could be said to add to the old-fashioned feel of the place, it was nevertheless annoying and it felt like a glaring oversight for a well-attended restaurant.
Food from the kitchen was also quite spotty. Pita, which is served with almost every appetizer, took forever to arrive -- well after our first couple of appetizer orders. Some orders took so long we gave up waiting and just decided to make sure they didn't appear on the bill. (They did, however, eventually show up).

One of our party was lost due to bad Translink directions and we feared she might not make it at all, so the rest of us just got started. Since Greek restaurants often have mains that are just appy + starch, we went with a bunch of appetizers for dinner. Pita bread came in a stack of cut-into-wedges rounds in their own round tin instead of individual portions for individual plates. Since these were appys, price will look pricey for portion, sometimes painfully so.

Niki's Meatballs ($13) 4 Greek meatballs and diced potatoes in tomato sauce topped with cheese and baked. Served with pita.
  • Yup -- over $3 per bite. Pretty big but nothing to write home about. Get at the generous amount of sauce with pita.
Chicken Livers ($11) Pan fried to crispy perfection. Served with pita.
  • Liver is liver. Don't know what they are talking about with the "crispy" part. It looked like it was breaded, and certainly some of the crumbs were crispy, but the while dish was basically swimming in oil in its hot metal dish.
  • Pricey for portion. Make sure you like liver before you order it.
Iani's Prawns ($16.50) 5 prawns served in a mushroom, tomato, feta ouzo sauce. Served with pita.
  • Inching toward $4 per prawn. Big enough to be more prawn than shrimp, but not particularly big. Pretty decent but nothing special. Skip it if you are going to complain about price.
Taramosalata ($6.50) Tangy caviar spread. Served with pita.
  • This came out very quickly. They probably had a good stock ready to go in the fridge (?).
  • The light pinkness and flavour and slight saltiness made me think if salmon. If you are bored with humous, go for this. Cheap, tasty, and filling with pita.

Saganaki ($12) Breaded pan fried mountain sheep cheese. Served with pita .
  • Comes in a hot hot hot dish. Definitely pay attention when the server tells you not to touch it.
  • Super salty!
  • A bit annoying to eat since if you don't eat it hot, it'll harden and toughen quite a bit. Plus it's swimming in oil.
  • Did I mention it was really salty? It's salty.
Country Lamb ($25) Shoulder of lamb braised until it melts off the bone. Served with rice, potatoes, Greek salad, tzatziki.
  • We were getting full when our lost-in-public-transit dining buddy showed up. She ended up ordering this but we were too full to try any especially as we were saving precious room for dessert.
  • Portion for price looked really decent as she got one heckuva chunk of lamb. Maybe the size of two tennis balls, and that is of course on top of the sides.
  • The classic Turkish dessert, but with an intriguing hint of orange flavour. Not nutty with pistachios and no clove. Sitting in a pool of watery honey.
  • Our server very kindly sent this to our table free of charge because my two dessert choices were sold out -- since we were just on what was probably the second seating at 7pm and were out shortly before 9pm, it seemed like more evidence of a super-busy day for them.
Overall I didn't feel the food was anything really special, but there wasn't anything wrong with it either--Everything seemed well done. The erratic way food came from the kitchen might be chalked up to a busy night, so you own experience will hopefully be better. They didn't even try to upsell us on pure alkaline water -- were they out or just scrambling around to keep on top of orders and service?

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