Some locales seem to pose a challenge to restaurateurs. Sandwiched between two retail fronts on the Westmount stretch of Sherbrooke Street is a restaurant space already in its third incarnation since 2014. Inaugurated by the Grinder group as Lea – which was decent – then followed by the Lucille's group as Parm – which was excellent – both of these folded surprisingly and prematurely.
Following that, it took all of two years before a new tenant popped up in the Victoria Village space. Open since September of last year, Kavos proposes an authentic estiatorio experience, akin to something one can experience back in Athens. Tonight my wife surprised me with dinner here for Father's Day on this balmy Sunday.
tagged: SUNDAY NIGHT
Housed in an archetypical Westmount Greystone, the Greek eatery is vertically spread out over four narrow floors, each with its own vibe and feel. The signature Zébulon Perron design was inherited as is from its predecessor Lea; as the adage goes, "If it ain't broke – and probably cost a fortune – don't fix it".
The industrial chic style featuring thick tabletops and brown leather banquettes may not scream Mediterranean, but this is undoubtedly one of the most unique interiors in town. The early-evening crowd – which only filled two of the four floors – mostly consisted of small family gatherings such as my own.
Kavos' one-page menu runs the gamut of Greek classics; mezze-style starters and salads are followed by protein-based mains served with a side of veggies or home fries. A plate of pita bread, melitzanosalata – eggplant dip – and dolmas – stuffed vine leaves – is offered on the house to whet one's appetite while sipping on a wine from the European-leaning list – which features several under $45 choices.
As for what followed; what a pleasant surprise! Zucchini/eggplant chips and calamari were fried to perfection, while a psilokomeni – finely chopped – salad was fresh with creamy feta goodness – although it could have used extra olives and tomatoes. Next up, our main dishes – fish, meat, poultry – were juicy and beautifully grilled; although my medium-rate steak needed more redness at the center.
The simple-yet-tasty, ingredient-driven dishes showcased Mediterranean flavours – olive oil, lemon, salt, oregano – at their finest. And to end, we shared a platter of decent loukoumades served next to two clumps of unctuous Greek yogurt topped with honey and grape chutney.
Our waiter for the night emitted warmth mixed with professionalism, a good fit for this upscale yet convivial venue. He expertly described the dishes to make up for the terse, vague descriptions on the still-evolving menu. Otherwise, he oversold the kitchen's ethos concerning ingredient sourcing and making everything in-house during his opening spiel – eye-roll moment – plus our dessert took forever to arrive.
Named after a resort village on the Greek island of Corfu, Kavos is trying to keep the Mediterranean candle sparked by its Spanish and Italian predecessors burning. After two restaurant groups with a track record of success threw in the towel, can this standalone project make it happen at this address?
I, for one, certainly hope so for several reasons: the sophisticated setting, the beautiful space, the amazing food… plus I'm a neighbor. For all of the above – minor service issues notwithstanding – Kavos is my first coup de coeur in a while!
Price per person: $41.50
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.