Monday, February 19, 2018

Estiatorio Volos: Modern Greek Cuisine

Located across from the Canadian Opera Centre at Richmond and University, Estiatorio Volos is centered around the concept of Philoxenia, a Greek word meaning hospitality, a credo that is woven into the tapestry of the restaurant’s food, service, and ambiance. Born out of owner Andreas Antoniou's passion for the food of his family's native Greece, he is committed to using only the highest quality local produce, creating a unique contemporary culinary experience rooted in authentic Greek cuisine. The open kitchen is presided over by chef Reza Parsia in collaboration with New York-based author, critic and chef Diane Kochilas, to create a menu of authentic, modern Greek dishes, with delicious results. Andreas knew of Kochilas by dining at Pylos in NYC, another Greek-inspired restaurant that bears the hallmark of her touch. Andreas approached Diane to come and create a menu that would put Volos on equal footing with the top Greek restaurants of Montreal, New York and Chicago. Kochilas, a New Yorker who lives in Greece, has an eye for New York chic mixed with down-home Greek flavours.

The menu at Volos reflects this vision, featuring modern twists on traditional classics, such as Horiatiki Salad with its classic combination of cherry heirloom and cluster tomatoes, field cucumber, red onion, Kalamata olives and barrel feta, laced with a generous lashing of chef Reza Parsia’s top-notch Cretan organic olive oil, Dolmades with grape leaf wrapped Metaxa-soaked golden raisins, pine nuts, arborio rice and Tzatziki — beautifully textured and full of flavour, and Moussaka, a towering terrine of eggplant, zucchini and yukon gold potato sauced with a Greek-style Bolognese perfumed with cinnamon and allspice, all topped with a fluffy, cheesy snowcap of Kasseri and Kafaltyri cheese béchamel. Volos also features a small pre-theatre menu, with a choice of three appetizers, three entrées and a selection of traditional Greek desserts such as Baklava and also Pressed Greek Yogurt with Honey and Fresh Berries, which was deliciously rich and thick with a small puddle of honey, crowned with a selection of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and a sprig of mint — polí nóstimos!

A whimsical chandelier made of green glass fishing buoys which hang over 
the impressive 12-seat celebration table

The open, friendly Mediterranean-inspired interior of Volos was designed using lots of 
warm wood, stone and natural light

Natural wood table settings with linen napkins and modern glassware

Volos pre-theatre menu

Fresh baked squishy baguette

2015 Vidiano, Klima, Crete

Soutzoukakia: Braised Meatballs with cinnamon, cumin and tomato sauce garnished with feta

Watermelon, feta and mint salad with extra virgin olive oil and lots of black pepper

Greek Lentil Soup

Black Sesame Wild Pacific Salmon with spanakorizo, shaved feta with a herb and lemon sauce 
and roasted asparagus

Moussaka with beef, eggplant, zucchini, Yukon gold potato, manouri, feta and Kefalotyri béchamel

Lamb Shank with feta mashed potatoes, spinach and crispy leeks

Horiatiki Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, bell peppers, olive, feta and olive oil

Pressed Greek Yogurt with fresh Berries and honey

Ouzo Chocolate Mousse with semi-sweet dark chocolate mousse with Ouzo chantilly

Makes about 40
Recipe courtesy of chef Reza Parsia, Estiatorio Volos

3 tbsp olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup rice
1/3 cup fresh dill
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1/3 cup fresh mint
2 cups water or stock
1/2 cup pine nuts, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
1 tbsp pomegranate syrup
1 jar brined grape leaves with at least 40 pieces

1/2 cucumber
1 cup pressed yogurt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
salt and pepper to taste

Shred the cucumber on a box grater, squeezing out excess liquid with a clean dish cloth. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cucumber with yogurt, vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cover and chill until ready to use.

In a small saucepot with 2 tbsp of olive oil, sauté onions for 2 minutes. Add rice, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir. Add a splash of lemon juice and herbs, and stir. Add water or stock, a splash at a time, stirring, until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Rice should be undercooked. Stir in pine nuts, raisins and pomegranate syrup. Transfer to plate and spread flat to cool.

Strain grape leaves and rinse for 15 minutes. Use a paring knife to remove excess tip of stem. Lay grape leaves flat, shiny-side down. Place a small spoonful of filling in the centre. Fold in left side, right side, the side closest to you, and then roll tight. It’s the same method as a burrito or spring roll, but with the grape leave forming a thick wrap.

Place dolmades in a pot covered with water, remaining olive oil, lemon juice, and a plate to weigh them down. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Uncover, remove from heat and allow to cool before straining and transferring to plate. Once dry and cool, store in fridge for up to 4 days. Serve chilled, with tzatziki.

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