Vios Cafe and Marketplace

danieltalsky | Restaurants,Reviews | Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I've been complaining lately about Greek restaurants.  In case you haven't noticed, they're really bad.  Seriously, at this point, when I see "Greek Restaurant" I can pretty much assume it's going to be the same limp and sad diner food.

Dry-ass gyros (you could get better from any decent gyros stand), cold and hard moussaka, overdone vegetables in a pasty tomato sauce, greasy orzo.  Basically a $13 greasy plate of crap that you need a good, cold Mythos to wash down.

Am I being too harsh?  Probably, but I've noticed that if a "Greek" is code for this kind of diner food.  A perfect example is the overpriced Costas Opa in Fremont.  If it's good, then they bill it as "Mediterranean" and leave the Greek out of it.  There's one of these Greek restaurants in just about every neighborhood of any town.  It serves a purpose I suppose, but I've just about had enough of it for a lifetime.

That's why when Amanda said, "You want to go to the new Greek place by my house?" I was indeed dubious.  As we walked up I noticed that it said "Greek / Mediterranean", so I guess they're splitting the difference.  They serve Mythos, so it's Greek as far as I'm concerned.

But then, I had some of the best Greek food I've ever tasted.

The restaurant lives on the back-side of Capitol Hill, where some of the foodie vibe of nearby Monsoon and The Kingfish Cafe clearly rub off on it.  I don't think anything else has succeeded in this space, but when we walked into the clean, bright restaurant, it was nearly packed on a Wednesday night, a good sign that it's caught on with the very locals.  It's got a big deli-case setup, but the food is priced like… well, humble fine-dining.

We had a couple of simple plates, Salami plate (from the truly spectacular-in-every-way Salumi) and triple-meze plate.  The pita was hot and fresh, and the baba-ganoush and tzatziki were fresh and vibrant and a little chunky just like they should be.

The star was my entree though: a pork stew.  It really was more of a terrine, where vegetables (and in this case, fruit) and meat are braised for a long time in a small amount of thick, flavorful braising sauce.  It was a gentle stew of roasted potato wedges, incredibly soft chunks of pork, and plums slices(!).  I can't tell you how much meat done right pleases me.

That was the only real dish we ordered, but I saw other lovely meat dishes come to people's place, and all looked done with the greatest care.

I think I'm ready to have another look at Greek food.

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