Annex 130: Ouzeri | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

4690 St-Denis
Montréal, Québec

Métro:  Laurier
Bus:  STM 14, 27, 30, 46, 47, 51, 427

Visit:  December 12, 2013

2013 has been such a great year when it comes to trying new places and seeking out the types of food that I haven’t tried before.  But, there is one type of cuisine that I keep coming back to.  Greek food has always been one of my favorites and I take any opportunity to try that.  This time around, I found myself at Ouzeri.

As we all know, best laid plans have a way of unravelling.  On this particular evening, I was scheduled to meet up with Steakman to undertake the final burger of the calendar year at a place that we were both really looking forward to.  However, that place radically changed their menu recently and that threw a wrench into our best laid plans.  On top of that, we were still going to go, but it was fully booked for a Christmas party.  So, we had to find something else to do.

When it comes to choosing a place to go to on a moment’s notice, you can say that I’m not the best at doing that.  I’ll either end up somewhere convenient or at a fast food place that doesn’t have any golden arches.  Accompanied by Steakman’s girlfriend, we were throwing out suggestions on the drive.  With some quick online searching through a smartphone, which wasn’t mine, we landed in the Greek category, with Steakman being Greek and all.

A few years back, I had my only Greek night.  That evening was held in a part of town where you have a lot of big time restaurants in that category.  Around the date of that night, I was gathering places for a possible second gathering and Ouzeri came up.  Online research yielded a lot of positive reviews and that allowed Ouzeri to stay in the back of all our minds since that moment.

We arrived at the restaurant and managed to find parking right in front.  As we entered, we were greeted by a server, who quickly shunted us down to the host.  The place was near empty, but we were told that they were mostly booked with reservations.  Over the two floors, there were only three tables available near the entrance.  After a bit of mulling, we picked one close to the door, which might have been a bad idea because there was a bit of a draft that I never felt because I’m always bundled up.

Throughout the night, we were observing the service and the quality or dedication of it.  There was one thing I noticed that slightly bothered me.  With two floors in play, there was always that one server who was flying up and down the steps.  It didn’t matter which direction that was, you couldn’t help but notice the impact the steps made on their way down.  What if a customer was standing at the bottom of the steps?

Eating a Greek restaurant with Steakman is always an interesting experience.  I tend to rely on his opinion because he, more or less, knows what he’s talking about.  The second he walked into the place, he wasn’t so happy.  His first complaint went towards the decor.  A typical ouzeri is a place where you have drinks and eat small plates.  You wouldn’t know it from the cafeteria style decor, but you’re sitting in a Greek restaurant.

When it comes to my point of view, I tend to not place that much importance on the decor, as long as the food is worth trying.  I’ve been to plenty of Chinese restaurants that don’t look like what they’re trying to sell.  While I tend to agree with Steakman a lot of the time, here, our opinions diverged somewhat.

Keftedakia

Shortly after we ordered our appetizers and main meals, this small dish made its way to our table.  This is a plate of meatballs and olives.  I had a chance to try the meatballs and they were quite good.  The olives and other elements were devoured by the rest of the table.

Mezes - Three Choices ($10)

For our appetizers, we went with a combination choice of three items from the appetizer section of the menu.  We chose dolmades, tzatziki, and marinated feta with olives.

The dolmades are stuffed vine leaves.  Inside the vine leaves, you’ll find mostly rice, as it is more of a vegetarian option.  There were no surprises here and I really liked my contribution to the appetizer plate.

For the other main attraction, the marinated feta and olives created a bit of division.  Steakman wasn’t really sold on either of the items, as the marinated part turned him off.  The feta has an entrenched taste of olives and I actually found that appealing.  As for the olives, the saltiness was a perfect counterbalance to all that.

Greek Salad ($10)

In probably what was the star of the evening for me, we get to the Greek salad.  I was under the impression that I would be eating this with my main course, but it arrived long before that ever showed up.  I pretty much wolfed that down as quickly, mostly because I love feta.

What I really have to note here is that each item of the salad was quite fresh and tasted really great.  The unusually pessimistic Steakman even made it a point to say that this salad looked pretty good.  What I really liked about it was the fact that you have a pretty close interpretation of what a Greek salad should really be.  So, there’s no complaining here.

Rice and Potatoes Supplement ($5)

Steakman ordered a side of rice and potatoes for the table.  Here, you see the rice that he didn’t really like so much.  He asked what it was and they answered back that it was pilaf, something that neither of us were so used to.

Feta Chicken ($17)

This is a bowl of chicken with peppers, salad, tzatziki, and a feta sauce.

In continuing my feta rampage, I went with something that really caught my eye.  I’m really tentative when it comes to ordering chicken, mostly because I find it really hard to enjoy it.  By the way, on a tangent, I didn’t order a feta dessert.  If only I could.  Back to reality, this was the best option and it featured what I like about most cuisines, the cheese.

First and foremost, the pieces of chicken were nicely cooked and they tasted great.  Steakman’s girlfriend, who also ordered the same dish as I did, was also quite happy with this selection.  On its own, the chicken was a formidable element.  The pressing question was this orange colored sauce that was ladled on top.

The sauce was made out of feta.  It resembles any of the purees that you’d find in a pikilia.  I’m not really a fan of having cheese sauces of any kind, so this was a stretch, but I am willing to give most things a shot.  The taste of the sauce was different and it took a bit of time to get used to.  After all, it was really interesting because it did add a bit of spiciness to the whole product.  Steakman requested his sauce on the side, but the rest of us didn’t mind it much.

Bougatsa ($6.25)

This was Streakman’s dessert.  Bougatsa is a Greek pastry dessert that is usually filled with custard or sometimes, cheese.  What was really interesting here was the fact that Steakman asked the server where if they made it in house.  The answer was that they bought it from a Greek grocery store in Parc-Extension.  That actually made Steakman happy.

Chocolate Mousse Cake ($5.50)

To finish things off, I went with my traditional chocolate mousse cake.  There isn’t much to say here other than the fact that I really like chocolate mousse cake.

Final Verdict

When you look at it objectively, Ouzeri offers a lot to satisfy the person who wants to eat well.  If you’re looking for the authentic Greek experience, this is probably not the direction you want to go in.  It is also quite important to note that it is very important to order correctly to ensure you order what a place does really well.  In all, for some of us, it was hit and miss, all at the same time.

Ouzeri on Urbanspoon

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