***Sadly this Restaurant is Closed***
At least a couple of times per month, the Divas can be found at Estiatoria Ellada enjoying Greek food, or a late night drink on a Saturday night when they have either live music by a Greek band or a Greek DJ playing a mix of the latest hits, Greek tunes and the classics. As a Greek, Diva #1 is not particularly fond of going out for Greek food, but she loves to dance and Estiatorio Ellada provides the perfect mix of phenomenal food and a great atmosphere for dancing. And even better? In this Greek supper club you do not need to buy a bottle to keep your table all night long. And the Divas love to stay at a restaurant/bar until it closes!
Unlike other Greek restaurants, Ellada is, for the most part, known for its cooked dishes. And unless yiayia (grandma) is making them for you, chances are you won’t find these staples at a restaurant in Montreal. These include lamb fricassée which is cooked with spinach and collard greens, lamb shank with orzo (youvetsi), veal stew with onions (moshari stifado), rice stuffed tomatoes and peppers (gemista) and the more traditional moussaka and pastitsio. Sweet Pea loves moussaka but Diva #1 cannot bear to order it when we go; as a Greek she has had her fair share of these traditional cooked dishes. We usually tend to order a bunch of mezzes (appetizers) when we go to Ellada, but these oven cooked dishes should not be ignored, and it is what differentiates Ellada from other Greek restaurants.
Greek white wines are a favourite of the Divas because they are not too sweet and rather dry. We started off our meal with our favourite Agioritikos wine, but Ellada boasts other Greek red and white wines depending on what is available at the SAQ. All meals at Ellada begin with warm multigrain bread that always arrives crispy and ready to devour. Their olives arrive at your table drenched in olive oil and oregano and consist of the traditional Kalamata olives, green Greek olives and Diva #1’s favourite, the little wrinkly black island olives. Diva #2 loves olives and they often need to refill our little bowl of complimentary olives because she has eaten them all.
On this particular evening we ordered all of their spreads, perfect to eat with bread and other fried mezzes like calamari or fried zucchini and eggplants. The tzatziki is perfection, made with thick yogurt; there is enough garlic to grow hair on your chest but it is subdued by the cucumber and dill which adds a lot of flavour. The taramosalata is a bread and potato based dip that is tossed with tarama, a type of caviar used by Greeks. Usually this is Diva #1’s least favourite dip but the potatoes cut a lot of the saltiness that is common in this dip and make for a better foundation than when it is solely bread based. The last dip, tirokafteri, is the Ellada specialty. Roasted red peppers, feta and spices create a spread that gives you a kick with every bite. It is a touch spicy but delicious!
No Greek meal is complete without the traditional village salad. Different from the more typical cucumber/tomato salad, this salad also has lettuce and peppers, as well as red onions and feta. Ellada provides a generous piece of feta and a perfect extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar salad dressing. The vegetables are at room temperature; cold vegetables in a salad are deplorable and it is hard not to do vouta (dip your bread in the vinaigrette) and fill up on just that. Sweet Pea loves a good vouta!
Ellada has a lot of traditional Greek fare such as spanakopita (spinach and feta pies wrapped in phyllo dough), and they also have tiropita which is the cheese variation. We have even ordered whole trays of these for Diva #1’s house parties! Their fried zucchini and eggplant, essentially Greek chips, are always the winners of the night. Deep fried thinly cut pieces of eggplant and zucchini are heavenly, sprinkle them with some mizithra (similar to parmesan) and you have yourself a hell of an appetizer. If you’re Greek or spend too much time with Greeks like Diva #2, you will know to dip these fabulous chip in some tzatziki. Forks are optional, just dig in!
If you have ever been to a Greek or even an Italian restaurant, you have probably indulged in your share of calamari. Deep fried, these morsels are an important mezze in Greek cuisine. Unfortunately, you do not taste the richness of the calamari when it is deep fried. Therefore we often opt for grilled squid, and at Ellada it is served with red onions, capers and roasted red peppers. It is an amazing mezze that captures the essence of Mediterranean cuisine: fresh seafood! Another great squid option at Ellada is the grilled squid stuffed with red peppers and feta. On our next visit we will be sure to order it again!
For a real treat don’t just get the grilled squid but add the grilled octopus too. Though Sweet Pea kills for the grilled octopus, Diva #1 really isn’t sure which one she prefers because their texture and taste are different. The grilled octopus tastes more charred but the grilled squid is topped with an amazing balsamic vinaigrette. Our suggestion is that you order both!
Now Diva #2 takes her love of saganaki very seriously. She never enters a Greek restaurant without ordering at least one traditional saganaki (fried cheese) with kefalograviera (Greek gruyere). On one of our visits our waiter sensed her enthusiasm and decided to take it a little further by using ouzo to flambé the cheese. She fainted but once she was revived she ate it all. Another saganaki option at Ellada is to fry sesame encrusted feta. But the Divas tend to stick to the more traditional variety!
If you are craving something cheesy and unique, there is also a dessert saganaki which is fried manouri cheese, which has a ricotta like consistency, but a touch thicker. This cheese is then topped with a quince preserve. Unfortunately, we are usually too full after our main meal at Ellada to order this dessert but it is heavenly.
The best way to eat at a Greek restaurant is to order a bunch of mezzes and share. Diva #2 loves a good loukaniko; she loves Greek sausage almost as much as saganaki. Grilled Hellenic sausage usually has orange peel in it providing a citrus kick that just makes the whole mezze more enjoyable. Diva #1 can do without Greek sausage but at Ellada, they top it with what the chef calls a salamoura sauce, a secret sauce that few can replicate. It consists of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper and other ingredients that we will never know! Diva #2 loves all types of Greek sausage!
Another popular appetizer is the jumbo shrimp which can be cooked in three different ways. Our favourite is cooked in tomato sauce with feta and pitted Kalamata olives, called Mikrolimano style. The shrimps are large and flavourful and the sauce is perfect, especially to eat with bread. Other ways to order shrimp at Ellada include grilled or cooked with ouzo. Our advice, have them Mikrolimano style and you will not regret it.
Though we are usually too full to enjoy the main dishes at Ellada they are quite delicious. Their grilled boneless chicken is made Hellenic style which means more salamoura sauce! This dish is traditionally served with the baked vegetables of the day and your choice of potatoes (roasted or French fries). We opted to have more French fries and no vegetables because we were drinking too much and needed some extra starch. Greek French fries are traditionally cooked in oil, not lard, and are sprinkled with mizithra ) and oregano. It certainly makes you yearn for the French fries dripping with olive oil at the restaurants on the beaches of Greece *sigh*
Another fabulous main meal is the Quebec lamb chops, called paidakia in Greek. These lamb chops can be sold per pound or as a plate served with the vegetables of the day and your choice of potatoes. The lamb chops always have a rim of fat that is perfectly crisped while the center of the lamb chop is still pink. Few can come to Ellada without ordering their paidakia! Don’t eat them with a fork and knife, you will just embarrass yourself; get your hands dirty, village style.
If you do not order a main meal, which comes with a side of roasted vegetables and potatoes, you can order them as side dishes too. You should really consider doing that, especially the rice which is made with tomato and fine herbs and is a very flavourful rice dish. It ties everything in very nicely.
If you are going to a Greek restaurant you expect fresh fish. Unfortunately, fish in Canada is incomparable to what you can get in Greece. That being said, Ellada does a fabulous job of getting rather close! On this particular night we ordered the tsipoura, gilthead sea bream, which is a whole fish sold per pound. Adorned with capers and splashed with more salamoura, this fish melts in your mouth. Other fish on their menu include the sea bass, red mullet, red snapper, swordfish, etc. Ask your waiter for the catch of the day and if you see the Chilean sea bass on the table d’hôte do not hesitate to order it, the Divas never do. It is cooked with steak spice and tastes so rich that it must be dessert.
Other table d’hôte specialties include the filet mignon with a pepper sauce, grilled vegetables and grilled shrimp. The filet mignon is a generous amount, rare inside the way Diva #1 likes it and topped but not drowning in a pepper sauce. The shrimp were grilled to perfection and the grilled vegetables heavenly. This table d’hôte special does not appear too often but when it does, indulge, just makes sure that you have not eaten too many appetizers beforehand or you will be undoing your belt buckle in no time.
There is never any room for dessert at Ellada, but somehow, after copious amounts of wine (which helps with digestion), we manage to find some room. The traditional Greek restaurant desserts in Montreal are loukoumades, puffs of deep fried dough lathered in honey. Ellada takes it the extra mile and has cinnamon sticks, orange peel and cloves soaking in their honey to provide an aromatic flavour to this dessert. If you are not up for fried dough after a big meal, you can also order thick Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts. Traditionally eaten at breakfast in Greece, this dessert is exceptional and the yogurt is perfectly thick as it should be. There are few things Diva #1 hates more than when yogurt is advertised as “Greek yogurt” but it is so runny that you could drink it. Ellada has the real thing!
The end to a Greek meal would not be the same without a frappé. The Divas are so obsessed that we bought a milkshake blender for work and we make them on our lunch breaks! Nes Café frappé coffee is the secret to this highly caffeinated beverage and we simply cannot do without it. You can even enjoy traditional Greek coffee, at Ellada grainy and thick, that can grow some hair on your chest. Just ask Zeus!
In Fall 2013, Ellada is planning to not only revamp its menu, but start offering wines at SAQ prices + 10$. You can be sure that the Divas will be back to try out their new menu and ensure that it is up to the standards that we have grown to expect from this restaurant.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 9030 L'Acadie, Ahuntsic, Always on Thursday, Bar, Bougatsa, Calamari, Cocktails, Cod, Cured Herring, Dolmades, Ellada Ahuntsic, Ellada Montreal, Estiatorio Ellada, Filet Mignon, Fish and Seafood Platter, Frappé, Fresh Fish, Fried Spearing, Grecian Chicken, Greek, Greek Salad, Greek Wine, Greek Yogurt, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Squid, Hellenic, Horiatiki, L’Acadie, Lamb Chops, Lamb Shank, Live Music, Loukaniko, Loukoumades, Mediterranean, Montreal, Moussaka, Mussels, Octopus, Olives, Pastitsio, Pilaf, Pork Tenderloin, Red Mullet, Red Snapper, Roast Beef, Saganaki, Sausage, Sea Bass, Seafood Pasta, Shrimp, Spanakopita, Spanakorizo, Stuffed Vine Leaves, Swordfish, terrace, Tirokafteri, Tiropita, Tsipoura, Tzatziki, Veal Chop, wine