Diva #1 can often be heard complaining about the Greeks, and as a Montreal Greek, reserves the right to complain about Greek men, Greeks from Laval and pompous Greek behaviour because after all… the Greeks did invent everything. It is very rare that Diva #1 wants to go out for Greek fare. First of all, she is Greek and tends to eat a lot of Mediterranean cooking at home. Furthermore, she has had it ALL and is rarely impressed so why go out looking for disappointment?
Unfortunately, Zeus, being a stubborn Greek male, often wants to go to Greek restaurants, bars and clubs and sometimes Diva #1 has to give in. On this fine night, a friend of ours was returning to Greece and we were having a going away party. That’s right, our GREEK friend was returning to GREECE and on his last night in Montreal we took him for GREEK food… see why she can’t stand Greeks? Narrow-minded bastards! Although she can rant about Greek people for hours, let’s talk about where we ate. The Divas, Vegan Vixen, Zeus, P’tit Frère, some other Greek friends of Zeus, cousins of Diva#1, and an Armenian went to Philinos restaurant on Park Avenue to say farewell to our friend. This sounds like the beginning of a bad joke…
Not the typical Diva night out, Philinos is an old restaurant with rustic Greek flare. It is not trendy, nor is it the IT place to be seen but it is a place for good Greek eats. It is often packed on weekends, the Greek music loud and the staff friendly… well, friendly to Greeks. We were there in the winter which is too bad because they have a beautiful vine covered terrace in the summer and we are sure that Zeus will love it if we returned. The Divas could tell that Zeus was in his element; talking to the patrons, waiters, barmaid and owners of Philinos like they were from the same village. Hell, they may have been. Diva #1 was caught muttering a number of Greek profanities under her breath while Diva #2 happily awaited her favourite Greek appetizer…saganaki!
Saganaki is a Greek specialty usually made up of pan fried graviera or kefalograviera cheese, types of gruyere, and is lightly tossed in flour before frying. Our waiter came to our table to douse the cheese in ouzo and set it on fire in front of us, which is part of the show and the impressive way that saganaki is often brought out of the kitchen. Served with the traditional lemon wedge, the saganaki was perfectly salty, with a crunchy crust and melted interior. Restaurants often fail to provide a perfectly melted saganaki, but not Philinos. It arrived in a cast iron plate and Diva #2 was soon wondering why we hadn’t ordered two since she wanted one all for herself. There are few things she loves about Greece more than their men and saganaki but Diva #1 could not disagree more about the men!
Our second appetizer was the octopus salad made of grilled octopus tossed with Kalamata olives, yellow peppers and parsley in an olive oil based vinaigrette. It was good but not perfection. The octopus lacked flavour and the dish was not jaw-dropping. The Divas have had some phenomenal octopus but some pieces seemed a touch chewy. Like we said, it was good but not wonderful.
Our third appetizer was their oyster mushrooms, served with olive oil, lemon and parsley. A favourite of Diva #1, she was not disappointed but needed to add some salt before being completely satisfied. This appetizer was delicious and it is often missing on Greek menus so she was very happy to see it and taste such well cooked mushrooms. She begrudgingly admitted that she was happy. Score one for the Greeks.
Like all good Greeks, our meal had to encompass the horiatiki (village) salad. This traditional Greek salad does not have lettuce but is a tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta salad that often has some Kalamata olives and spicy pickled peppers. The salad is dressed with olive oil, oregano and red wine vinegar, although there is debate if vinegar belongs in this salad at all. The Greeks cannot even agree about the perfect Greek salad, they just have to argue about everything … clearly Diva #1 can be described as a bitter Greek. The salad was as expected, the ingredients fresh and the vegetables not refrigerated (thank God), and there was a generous amount of feta which delighted Zeus.
At this point the group had gone through a few bottles of delicious red Greek wine, and we were on to our first bottle of gin. Needless to say we were feeling fabulous; Diva #2, tired of Zeus always implying but never acting, decided to take matters into her own hands (following words of wisdom from Diva #1), P’tit Frère had just arrived and was looking at us with his usual judgmental glare (and concern), and the alcohol was flowing as we awaited our meat. The Armenian and his love of Greek sausage, yes, there is a dirty joke there, ordered his infamous loukaniko which came with potatoes, some steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, and a side of Dijon mustard. The mustard is not Greek and a bit too “white” to be seen on a Greek loukaniko plate but the meat was delicious and the Armenian was left satisfied.
Greek restaurants often serve the traditional grilled meat platter for large groups, so Zeus ordered a few for us. The lamb chops were perfect; a little pink inside, juicy and so tasty that we ordered a second helping. Sometimes lamb chops can be on the scrawny side but not at Philinos. The sausage was very good and did not taste or look like the usual loukaniko which was surprising and had a nice twist.
The chicken breast was tender and moist and had a nice charred flavour as did the steak. Both the chicken and steak could have had more seasoning and dressing. Grecian chicken is often tossed in a rich oregano, olive oil, lemon sauce that distinguishes it from simple grilled chicken. This meat platter was delicious but lacked the extra something that differentiates Grecian chicken, roast beef, etc from a regular grilled meat platter.
Diva #2 refused to fill herself up on starchy potatoes when there was so much more to enjoy, but Diva #1 thought that they were very good and a great accompaniment to the meat. At this point, we were on our second bottle of gin, a gift from the owner. It’s times like these that inspire Diva #1 to text her favourite Greek male with clear-cut inappropriate innuendos which are cleverly unanswered, though that does not deter her.
We had been there for awhile and we were getting louder; Diva #1 became Greeker, Vegan Vixen was secretly snacking on the meat and Zeus and Diva #2 were five seconds away from mating. The Greeks were now only talking in Greek, the Armenian was getting up to go home and the patrons and staff were laughing with us. The restaurant was empty, it was around one in the morning but this was not enough for the Greeks. On this cold winter day we all decided (except the Armenian who ran away) to head on over to Mythos Ouzeri.
Mythos is a few blocks from Philinos and is both a restaurant and a Greek club / bar where Greeks of all ages, and we mean all ages, from kids who just turned 18 to old leering men, can dance, drink and be merry while pretending to be in Greece. Zeus insisted that we go, big surprise, and of course, we met more of his Greek friends on the way. Diva #1 Greek danced all night and when she awoke the next morning, was overcome with feelings of self-loathing over her Greekness, like after a salacious night of regret. Diva #2 on the other hand had disappeared with dear ol’ Zeus and woke up with torrid R-rated stories for Diva #1 to ease the disgust of her actions. So of course the Divas met up with Sweet Pea who had missed the debaucheries of the night before for another meal and to discuss the previous night’s events. That, dear readers, is what we do; eat, drink, cause trouble, and then go out again to tell our stories.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 4806 Ave Du Parc, Avenue du Parc, Bar, Calamari, Catch of the Day, Fish, Grecian Chicken, Greek, Grilled, H2V 4E7, Lamb Chops, Loukaniko, Meat Platter, Mediterranean, Mile End, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Moussaka, Mussels, Octopus, Outremont, Oyster Mushrooms, Park Avenue, Philinos, Philinos Montreal, Philinos Outremont, Philinos Parc, Pikilia, Pork, Reservations Needed, Saganaki, Sausage, Seafood, Shrimp, Souvlaki, Spanakopita, Splendid, terrace, Tzatziki, wine