5375 Queen Mary
Bus: STM 17, 51, 63, 166
Visit: April 21, 2012
Greek food and large group gatherings have become a vital part of my food adventures in Montreal. Ever since I’ve been to my first real Greek restaurant in September of 2011, I’ve been looking forward to every and each opportunity I could get. Most of those Greek outings, even if they were organized by me, came from the head of someone else. This would be the first time that I would be the one to choose the Greek restaurant. The pressure was going to be on my head.
This location was one that I was looking forward to for quite the while. I first heard of Yia Sou in the late stages of 2011, as I was reeling from experiences at Panama and Panos. I was reading the Gazette’s end of 2011 list of best dishes. In the midst of that list came a stunning recommendation for pikilia, a platter of appetizers. That was enough for me to take notice.
I wasn’t about to keep that to myself and waste it away on a very small number of people. I needed a rather large group outing for this. So, who better than my more-than-willing colleagues for this Greek escapade? Well, gathering people is always easier than it seems. Being the one that has to coordinate dates, times, and names isn’t something that I relish doing. Despite how I felt about the whole organization of the evening, it’s not the be-all-end-all of the experience. I just felt really bad having to tell the restaurant that we weren’t quite going to make our numbers.
As I said, it wasn’t about the organizing of the night that I want to dwell on. The thing I want to take away was the time at the restaurant and the hijinks that were to ensue. On this Saturday evening, I decided, as usual, to come it a little bit early to make sure that our table was spoken for. At the time, the restaurant was still quite empty. The staff were still also getting set-up for the onslaught of people that were set to come.
This time gave me a chance to take a gander at the decor, which was a step above your normal Greek establishment. The room was a little dark, but cozy enough to have a nice evening. In front of me, you could see a number of screens, which were showing the hockey playoffs. For anyone asking, I have completely checked out of the NHL for the 2011-2012 season, don’t ask me who was playing.
The service was my next area of focus. At all times, I was called ‘sir,’ which you don’t get so much at all restaurants. With each person who came in, we were promptly asked for our drink requests. So, at the outset of the time there, the server had our table quite covered. One of my colleagues made a comment that the service was slow. This comment came back again at our second location of the evening. I wanted to be nice in my response, but what do you expect when some people no-show? The restaurant expects a certain number of people and aren’t going to move so fast if everyone isn’t there. So, me personally, I have no complaints about the service, as it was very cordial.
For the course of the evening, to make sure that we weren’t going to wait so long, we decided to order the appetizers before our compliment of diners was complete.
Cold Large Pikilia
This pikilia contains tzatziki, taramosalata, skordalia, kopanisti, hummus, dolmades, spanakopita, tiropitakia, feta, olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
The plating of the pikilia is something that I’ve heard other people talk about. The difference you’ll find is that the ‘dips’ were in containers, rather than on the plate itself. Honestly, this is my third pikilia in my life, and it looks less sloppy.
In my past pikilias, there were always all-star elements. This platter was not different and I was happy with nearly everything I tried. My colleagues were also very pleased with what we had. Even, my token Greek colleague, who served as the measuring stick for the food, gave his signature stamp of approval.
The dolmades were quite interesting. The vine leaves filled with rice can give you quite the challenge if you’re not going to eat them properly. I haven’t quite figured that out yet. I think I had three of them and didn’t eat them the same way each time. The first time, I cut the dolmades and everything spilled out. So, I had to scoop up the rice and eat it that way. I found that eating it whole was probably most effective.
The pies and feta cheese were as awesome as I always remembered them to be. The more popular parts of the platter disappeared quickly. The spreads were the last things to stay behind, but we asked to keep the platter at the table, so that they could be used with the bread we asked for. Then, there was the items that looked like chile peppers. No one ever touches them and we all came to the consensus that they’re there for decoration.
Two of my colleagues had to leave early and they decided to spring for a full plate of dolmades.
Those two same colleagues also ordered a plate of grilled vegetables. They were also nice enough to leave it behind when they couldn’t finish it. I just like the amount of feta given here.
It was that time of the evening, when the party was completed, to order the main dishes. Rather than the family-style dining that’s popular in other restaurants, the options here were limited to individual platters, not that I mind so much. Each main dish came with an option of salad, a bed of rice, and potatoes.
I’m also going to let the other dishes that my colleagues had speak for themselves, unless I tried some.
This Greek salad contains tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, feta, olives, oregano, and olive oil vinaigrette.
When I go to a Greek restaurant, I like to order Greek salads because I know I’m going to get feta. Up to 2011, I have never had feta cheese. I was the one of the things that I really enjoyed, now that I’m eating it. The only thing I regret, now that I have the menu open in front of me, is that I didn’t go for the house salad, which was a combination of normal salad and Greek salad.
The Greek salad is nice, but I found that there were a whole lot of things that I didn’t quite enjoy. When I got past all the items that I liked, I was left with a roster of things that I wouldn’t touch. The olives and onions, though I have nothing against them, didn’t leave the plate. The rest of the salad was awesome. So, if I ever return, I’ll be sure to choose a house salad.
Grilled Jumbo Shrimp
The choice of main course was never in question for me. For the weeks leading up to this evening, I knew exactly what I wanted. Ever since my evening at Panos, I knew that this was well worth the money. For the purpose of my thought about this platter, I’ll go from least favorite to most liked. For the record, I actually liked the whole thing, so it’s a little difficult to be picky here.
The thing I didn’t touch was the garlic butter, given to compliment the shrimp. For me, it’s really a matter of personal preference. I was thinking about this the other day and I have to be clear, I’m not too fond of sauces, dips, or anything meant to enhance something. If the product is good, it should be that way without the add-ons, that’s just the way I think.
The potatoes surprised me a bit. I wasn’t expecting them to show up in two large pieces. They were a little hot, which gave me a flashback to the night before. I decided to slow down a bit on these. I cut them up to make sure I wouldn’t burn myself again. That decision was wise, since they went down easy, though quite fast.
The rice was also solid, though since I’m used to Asian-style rice, I remain fond of what I grew up with. I thought the rice looked abundant, but as the evening went down, it’s disappearance surprised me. I have to say that the portions were quite generous, as I was doubting whether or not I’d be able to get dessert downtown later.
The main star of the dish were the giant jumbo shrimp. Just like I did months ago at Panos, I decided to take a picture to see if I could rival one of my best photos ever. The shrimp were solid, though, by the time I got to the fifth one, I was too full to fully enjoy what I was having.
Steakman’s Rib Steak
This was ordered by one of my colleagues. She was a little bit overwhelmed by the portions and decided to spread the wealth around. I decided to take a piece to see how they were. The lamb was quite good. I’m not a big lamb expert, but taking a bite out of this, the thought of it being what it was never goes through your head.
Yia Sou, after being open for nearly 3 years, delivered on its above-par pikilia. None of my hungry colleagues ever heard of this restaurant. They were all surprised that they were all going to a Greek restaurant on Queen Mary. What they got was a few hours of good portions, solid food, and cordial service. I’m hoping that Montreal gets the chance to see that you can get Greek food anywhere in the area.
Our evening at Yia Sou was only the precursor to the main purpose of the evening. I decided to put this evening together after hearing about one of my colleague’s Lent. For her period of sacrifice, she gave up junk food and most of all, chocolate. So, after over a month of me pushing and prodding, the promise of chocolate was just too much to give in to. For the purpose of the re-introduction of chocolate to her daily life, we decided to make Cacao 70 our destination.
On this evening, it being my second ever visit, I decided to give the Triple Chocolate Cake a rematch. The last time I had the cake, I wasn’t quite dominating it. It basically kicked my butt. So, to see what I thought of that cake, just check out my original post on Cacao 70.
My other colleagues ordered a cornucopia of very interesting looking treats and delights. All those things satisfied the colleagues crazy enough to try them. For the record, our star colleague, who this evening was for, ordered a banana split, which didn’t have as much chocolate as you’d think it should have. Anyways, I’ll end this post by allowing those awesome pictures speak for themselves.
Apple Cinnamon Caramel Crepe