Annex 52: Mr. Lew's Greek Night @ Panama | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

789 Jean-Talon O.
Montreal, Quebec

Metro:  Acadie, Parc
Bus:  STM 16, 80, 92, 93, 179, 435, 935

Visit:  October 29, 2011

http://www.rotisseriepanama.com/

2011 has been a big year for me to try and get to like Greek food.  Over the course of this calendar year, I got a know a Greek colleague who basically has been guiding me through Montreal’s Greek cuisine.  But, I need to say that I’m not the only one who wants to expand their Greek horizons.  Shortly after my post on Ellada at the end of September, a conversation on Twitter gave me quite the idea.

I decided to see what I could do about hosting Mr. Lew’s first ever Greek night.  Now, even though I selfishly named the evening after myself, I wasn’t going to be the one to pick the place or the food.  I left the choice of restaurant and food to my trusty colleague who has become a major part of this food hunt.  The challenge was getting a group of hopefully 8 other individuals to come to this evening.

The trouble with getting people together is figuring out schedules and availabilities.  So, due to the unpredictable nature of those schedules and the ever so present Montreal traffic situation, we were only 8 out of the expected 10 individuals.  That, in no instance, affected the course of the evening.

The group included yours truly, my eating colleague, Twitter follower Sandman5, bacon lover nboulaymtl, influencial journalist ToulasTake, opinionated bacon worshipper stereoqueenbee, and bloggers Foodie Date Night.  Being surrounded by such knowledgeable food lovers is always something I look upon is awe and amazement.  Watching them interact and exchange ideas was incredible.  All I had to do was bring them together, shut up, and listen.

The restaurant chosen for this evening was my colleague’s suggestion.  When I asked him for his favorite 5 Greek places on his list, this restaurant ranked right up there with another past Annex location, Tripolis.  My only real worry was getting the other 6 individuals with high brow tastes to approve.

The Menu

As I entered the restaurant, I noticed the kitchen staff in plain view.  I stood at the entrance waiting for someone to at least acknowledge my presence.  As a saw people in blue shirts pass by, busy with work in hand, I waited patiently.  The hostess came by, but went to the counter to deal with something, basically ignoring my presence for a minute or two.  So, there I was standing around thinking I lost so much weight that I was see-through now.  Luckily, when the hostess finally got to me, she was cordial enough to point me in the direction of our reserved corner table where two members of our party already arrived.  It’s actually rare for me to not be the first person to arrive somewhere.

The Table Setting

The decor of the restaurant is quite unique as you can see from the table setting.  The yellow walls surrounded the diners, creating what I’ll call a cozy place to eat.  Some people would be turned off by the color scheme, but I really wasn’t.  The table cloths were blue and white, quite fitting for the Greek restaurant.  This table cloth was in place to make sure that you’re reminded all evening long that you are where you are.

The big thing that I noticed was the immense crowd in the restaurant.  When I arrived, I’d say that half the tables were filled up.  As time passed, the rest of the restaurant was jam packed with a huge line-up at the door.  This is only a good sign.  In my life, I’ve only seen short list of restaurants with line-ups similar to what I saw during that evening.  You know what they say, if they’re waiting at the door, something must be good.

During the busy peak times of the evening, the service slowed a bit.  This is understandable because of the immense amount of service to dole out.  However, since we were a good group of people, it didn’t bother us to wait for the server to come to our table.  Once the server got there, they took care of us with great care.  Plus, it didn’t hurt to have someone speaking the Greek language ordering for us.

Towards the end of the meal, something made me break down in a laughing fit.  As the group was deeply involved in their highly intellectual conversation, I overheard something from another table.  “Oh no, you didn’t!”  Those were the four words, done in perfect pitch and tone, that brought me down, a person who rarely bursts out laughing.  As my table mates wondered what I was on, I had to rebuild my composure so that I could re-tell what I just heard.  So, in my best impersonation of the line of the night, I repeated the magical words, “oh no, you didn’t!”  Yes, I think I did.

The end of the night allowed us, as a group, to sit back and take in the atmosphere of the restaurant.  We were full and hardly able to think about getting up to eat.  There was only one problem with that, there was hardly any atmosphere left.  As that particular time, it was only around 9:30 p.m.  The restaurant had emptied and the staff was starting to go home.  We mentioned how in other Greek restaurants, this was the time that the real night was just getting started.  This could probably be attributed to the fact that most of the patrons were not Greek.  It was probably the strangest thing we noticed all night.

Bread

Lemon

This accompanied the fried calamari dish.

Fried Calamari

This dish one of the few dishes I didn’t touch during the evening.  My eating policy is quite simple.  If I don’t like the way something looks pre-cooking, it ain’t going into Mr. Lew.  It’s just the way I feel.  I’m disgusted by squid, octopus and scallops.  I may be missing out on something good, but I don’t really care.  So, the cuter the animal, the bigger likelihood that it’ll get a new home in my belly.  I know I’ll get letters on that one.

By the way, the fried calamari was accepted by the ones having it, so there’s no worries there.

Tzatziki

The comment going around that evening was that it was too garlicky.  At least two members of our party said that.  However, the more experienced tzatziki people said that it’s supposed to be like that.  So, it’s like going to take a swim and complaining that you’re going to get wet.

Taramosalata

This is basically a carp roe spread.

Giant Beans

This dish of giant beans was one of the first things that I tasted.  I basically had 2 of them in all.  As you take a bite, you get a bit of a cheese taste to it.  Now, I may be completely off, but that’s how I saw it.  I actually liked that about it.

Saganaki

This is pan-seared cheese.  This dish can be flambéed at your table at some other restaurants, but in this case, it was not.

This was by far one of the biggest hits of the evening.  We cut it up into about 5 to 6 pieces and had it.  At first, I didn’t like the smell emanating from the dish, but that feeling dissipated quickly.  The cheese tasted good and the crust was well done.  The crust actually added to the whole experience and even surpassed the actual cheese at points.

Grilled Octopus

This was the second dish that fell into the category of things I won’t eat, even by proxy.  Even though it didn’t look exactly like the disgusting appearance of octopus, there was still some evidence of why I won’t put this stuff in my mouth.  For what it’s worth, the people who tried this mentioned how the bigger pieces of octopus were more tender than the smaller ones.  I did, however, pick at a piece of cucumber, which was really nice.

Chicken Pita

This chicken pita was ordered for one of our members who had to leave early.  It looked rather decent filled with the chicken, that we would later get to try.  For the price, it seems really worth it.

Grilled Chicken

This was one of the two all-star main dishes that we ordered on this evening.  The chicken was well-cooked and delivered on all respects.  I had a few pieces and was satisfied so much that I didn’t care how I looked as I attacked it.

Potatoes

These potatoes were most likely my favorite side dish of the evening.  I know that they aren’t really Greek food, but I still have to say that they were done well.  Next to mashed potatoes, this is one of my favorite ways to get my spuds.

Rice

I know I just sang the praises of the potatoes, but the rice wasn’t too far behind.  The rice was soft and pretty much melted in my mouth.  It was so good that I went for some twice.  Another nice complimentary dish for the other main courses.

Greek Salad

Much like past Greek salads seen on this site, this one delivered just as well.  Though it was one of the slower dishes to disappear, nothing here was lacklustre.  Each part of the salad rivalled anything I had in the past.

Roasted Lamb

This was by far the most popular dish of the entire night.  This was also the first real taste of lamb for me.  The meat was cooked quite well as it melted in my mouth.  Our group went through this so fast that we had to order a second serving of lamb.  This was definitely the top all-star of the evening.

Lamb Chops

These were ordered to bring variety to the meats we chose.  Even though we already had lamb, this was done to change the way we ate the lamb.  I felt the pieces were a little small and it was difficult to find enough meat to pull off the bones.  For that reason, I only really had 2 pieces.


Final Verdict

Despite some slight  drawbacks, the quality of the meat that we were served far outweighed any concerns we had.  We were so comfortable in the restaurant that we stayed for quite a while.  As a matter of fact, when my colleague and I left, 4 members of our group stayed behind to order dessert.  Having seen the pictures of the loukoumades, part of me wondering if we missed out.  For Greek food, I’ll have to say that my visit here on this evening really showed me that there are many places that deliver good product.  With good food, good company, and good fodder, I think Mr. Lew’s Greek Night was a success.

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