In Montreal, restaurants come and go and few truly stand the test of time. Others stay open, catering to a loyal, yet aging clientele, but often, the younger crowd remains disinterested in the established restaurants of yesteryears. These restaurants are often without a social media presence, there is no buzz, nor tatted chef at their helm. They aren’t trendy or trending… but Estiatorio Milos, like so few others, has stood the test of time. The loyal, aging clientele still fills its tables, but the younger generation do too, they love their after ten pm menu, perfect for those who dream about Estiatorio Milos but can’t afford dinner there.
They consider themselves a Greek tavern, the white table cloths and pristine interior tell you otherwise. Milos is known for their fresh fish, this reputation began in the late 70s when they first opened. Back then, Costa Spiliadis, the well-known owner and chef, used to drive to New York’s Fulton Street Fish Market twice a week to ensure that Milos received the best catch. Milos now has locations in New York City, London, Las Vegas, Athens and Miami.
Montreal’s Estiatorio Milos is home to many Greek cultural events, as well as wine tastings and culinary treats. One of those events was the Ktima Parparoussis Tasting that Diva #1 had the pleasure of attending a few days after this visit to Milos. On this particular visit, Diva #1 was at Milos for her favourite cousin’s birthday. Like true Greeks, our dinner reservation was at 10 pm, the perfect time to start dinner in Greece. Senior Diva, Aunty, Uncle and even Sweet Pea were there to celebrate.
Our evening started with fresh grilled country bread, the greenest extra virgin olive oil, all part of the Milos brand, and a little potted oregano plant that was snipped in front of us and added to the olive oil. Oregano because this is a Greek restaurant, leave the basil to the Italians. The oil is from the Manolakos Estate, Costa Spiliadis’ sister’s estate in Olympia, Greece. Milos is truly a family business, like so many Greek restaurants. The olive oil is labeled “My Sister’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil,” simple and true.
We started with the Pickle Point oysters, meaty and delicious, we haven’t had oysters that are this good in a while. Served with the traditional red wine and green onion mignonette, and plenty of fresh lemon, the oysters didn’t need much, they were perfect. At 46$ for a dozen the price is steep but the oysters were intense and delicious, so you definitely received more for your dollar.
Fried zucchini and eggplant with tzatziki is a staple in Greek restaurants, Diva #1’s dad calls them Greek chips and that they are. Milos prepares them in a special way, paper thin, lightly fried and placed in a tower with a center of tzatziki holding it all together. The fried zucchini and eggplant was so flavourful that you didn’t even need the tzatziki, but the tzatziki was too good to ignore. It wasn’t too garlicky, it was just right.
The fried zucchini and eggplant tower came with squares of saganaki, fried Greek graviera (gruyere) cheese. Diva #1’s family loved the saganaki so much that they ordered a plate of it on its own. We couldn’t even find saganaki on Milos’ menu but the kitchen was very accommodating and they brought us a plate.
Our only regret was that we didn’t try their infamous crab cakes that everyone raves about, we saw the little crabs teasing us behind the glass but Uncle ordered everything and didn’t leave much deciding to us.
In Greece you find Octopus drying on rods outside of Greek taverns. Fishermen toss them on rods after a morning at sea and the restaurants allow them to sun dry before cooking them at dinner. It’s romantic, it’s beautiful, but it’s almost impossible to reproduce in Montreal. It’s just too cold to sun dry octopus all year round, and no one, except the local Chinese restaurant, is fishing in the polluted St Lawrence River. But Milos was not deterred, and they promise you sashimi quality Mediterranean octopus, meaning good enough to eat raw but charcoal broiled to absolute perfection.
Diva #1 cannot remember eating octopus this good since she was last in Greece. It was perfect, drizzled lightly with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with fresh parsley and a few capers, on a bed of pickled onions. It was perfection, every bite was better than the last. It arrived at the same time as the cuttlefish (also known as sepia) that’s a touch slimier than grilled calamari, but bursting with flavour. Diva #1 was too busy fighting over the last pieces of octopus to snap a picture of the cuttlefish, and it was quickly eaten by her family.
Diva #1 looked longingly at the stuffed zucchini flowers that were waiting to be fried, but she quickly forgot them as the bigeye tuna sashimi arrived at the table. Although the concept of eating raw fish is slowly making itself to Greece, mainly Athens, it isn’t as trendy of a concept as it is in Montreal. But Milos is innovative and likes to do things first, so they brought tuna sashimi to the Greek restaurant. It was seasoned with yuzo kosho which is a spicy Japanese chilli and yuzu paste that certainly gave it a kick, as well as dill for that Greek essence, lime juice and extra virgin olive oil.
And then the true test came along, if Estiatorio Milos could make a Greek salad worth 28$, something so simple, that much better, then they won. Every vegetable in the agouro-domata (cucumber-tomato) salad was perfect at room temperature. A mix of red and yellow tomatoes enhanced the colour of the salad and added another element to the simple dish. Cucumbers, onions, Kalamata olives and those traditional pickled hot peppers made for a perfect salad. The feta sealed the deal, and after we asked our waiter, he told us that it was Krinos feta – for anyone who needs to run out and buy this. And you should, it was that good! Our waiter Kosta was absolute perfection, he even brought us extra pickled peppers when he saw Sweet Pea stealing them off the birthday boy’s plate.
The lobster special of the night was actually langoustines. These cousins of lobster are spiny and smaller than a typical Maine lobster. They taste more gamey and are less sweet than a large Maine lobster. Cut in half and grilled, the meat is tougher than traditional East Coast lobster but spiny langoustines are a different type of crustacean. Served with their eggs intact, it added another dimension of flavour to the meat that was lightly drizzled in olive oil and lemon, in that typical Greek fashion.
Although we’re bigger fans of Maine lobster, we nonetheless enjoyed the langoustines. They were cooked to perfection but in the end your favourite crustacean is a matter of preference. Milos was made famous by their fresh fish and seafood waiting for you on ice. Get up, choose your fish and it’s cooked right away for you, just like in Greece. Fagri, St-Pierre, Sea Bass (lavraki), Pompano and emperadore are just a few of the fresh fish that lay there for our picking on this visit. The variety changes often depending on the season!
Besides the fresh fish there is also fresh squid on that same bed of ice, the langoustines in their tank, and delectable treats like scallops, crabs and lamb chops behind glass fridges. All tantalizing and teasing, Uncle opted for the grilled sea bass (lavraki), a traditional white fish that’s commonly eaten in Greece. The whole fish is deboned, split and topped with more of that delectable extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and capers. The service at Milos is impeccable, the fish is served to everyone by your waiter, and every dish is explained as it arrives to your table.
The fresh calamari that was glistening on ice was too delectable for us to ignore. A plate of the freshest grilled calamari arrived before us. Deep fried calamari no longer impresses us, a fresh grilled calamari is all the rage. Topped with greens and parsley, with a drizzle of that extra virgin olive oil, the calamari at Estiatorio Milos was incomparable. Like in Greece, everything is dressed very simply, it’s the outstanding taste of the fish, seafood and vegetables that is meant to stand out so that you do not need heavy sauces or too many herbs and spices to mask the inadequacies of the meat, fish or seafood.
The lavraki and calamari arrived with a side of rapini, lightly steamed so that they remained traditionally biter and served with extra virgin olive oil and lemon. We would have preferred to see horta or vlita which are the Greek version of rapini, but leafy greens nonetheless. They were delicious! At this point we were getting rather full, chatting with our friendly waiter Kosta. He was raving about the Ktima Parparoussis Tasting that was taking place later that same week. We loved the food at Milos, and adored the service so much, that we signed up for it on the spot. We were that eager to return!
Aunty doesn’t ask for much, and with a chocolate allergy she doesn’t often get excited about dessert. But she insisted that everyone try the galaktoboureko at Estiatorio Milos. Our darling waiter Kosta explained that Lambrini, the pastry chef at Milos, was in fact a goddess who made the best galaktoboureko in the city. He wasn’t exaggerating. The custard was the perfect texture with hints of orange in between crispy pieces of phyllo dough with minimal syrup. Diva #1 generally finds Greek desserts too sweet and lathered in too much honey but the galaktoboureko at Milos was perfection.
With a glass of Moscato Parparoussis to finish our meal, we were full and pleased. Estiatorio Milos is a pricey night out but you truly get your money’s worth with the freshest fish, seafood, meat and vegetables, prepared with love and care. The service from Kosta was excellent and we clearly loved our experience because we immediately made a reservation for their Ktima Parparoussis Tasting, just a few days later. It’s rare that we return to a restaurant so soon but Estiatorio Milos captivated us.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 5357 Av du Parc, Catch of the Day, Costa Spiliadis, Estiatorio Milos, Estiatorio Milos Montreal, Galaktoboureko, Greek Restaurant, Greek Salad, Grilled calamari, H2V 4G9, langoustine, Lavraki, Lobster, Milos Late Night Menu, Milos Montreal, Montreal, Montreal Fresh Fish, Montreal Greek, Montreal Late Night Menu, Montreal Restaurant, Montreal Seafood, My Sister’s Olive Oil, Octopus, Outremont, oysters, Saganaki, Sea Bass, Seafood Restaurant, Squid, tuna sashimi