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A Plateau Mainstay


The Pitch

Greek restaurants come in three varieties at least in Montreal.  Going from the lower end upwards, you have your casual souvlaki joint followed by the mid-market ouzeri and ending with the upscale estiatorio.

Occupying an acute angle corner at the intersection of Rue Saint-Denis and Rue Gilford in the Plateau a rare sight in Montreal reminiscent of European towns is the aptly-named Ouzeri, which naturally falls in the middle of the scale.

Parking in the area does not come easily, least of which on a Friday night, which required several back and forths in the adjacent residential streets.

tagged:  DITCH THE CAR

The Mood

Ouzeri has been on my radar for at least a decade from countless strolls or drives in front.  The room seems always full and happening from the vantage point of the street.

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Tonight was no different; the Friday night crowd consisting of thirty to fifty-year-olds filled the restaurant to its limit.  The interior evokes Mediterranean/Greek vibes thanks to blue and yellow painted walls and matching art pieces.

The Food

An ouzeri is essentially a Greek tavern with a focus on mezedes small plates to share and ouzo an anise-flavoured aperitif.  That is exactly what we went for and experienced, in addition to some Greek wine.  The wide-spanning menu starts off with dips, soups and salads followed by vegetarian, seafood, rice/pasta and meat/poultry mains.

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It is worth noting that prices rarely exceed $20 and when they do, they peak at $26; a rarity when one is looking at octopus, scallops and lamb chops.  What we tried from the Greek-plus-Mediterranean menu satisfied and then some, but was also deserving of some criticism.

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Delicious hummus and tzatziki were spread over generous helpings of country-style bread, and overshadowed the rest of our cold appetizers consisting of a bland lima bean salad and marinated octopus.  Zucchini-feta fritters called kolokithokeftedes good luck pronouncing that rounded up our starters and were a crunchy/melty treat!

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My own main dish disappointed but I got a chance to poke at everyone else's on my table and those were great.  I ordered a scallop/cheese casserole-type dish which was alas too oily and cheesy, completely masking the scallops, which were overcooked anyway.

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Everything else however seafood pasta, lamb chops, lamb moussaka worked nicely and showed that twenty-something-dollar plates can use premium ingredients and be filling if portions and presentations are reconsidered.

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Dinner ended on a high note with two equally delicious but contrasting desserts.  One was a decadent white chocolate tart topped with pistachios served next to a raspberry coulis, while the other was a less evil custard-filled phyllo pastry known as bougatsa.


The Service

Greek restaurants tend to be old fashioned in the way they present themselves, and Ouzeri is no exception to this.  The restaurant's Instagram account is inactive and reservations are taken over the phone.

But you won't hear me complain; a restaurant need not embrace new technology if things are working.  Clearly Ouzeri has no trouble filling its seats on the weekend, and their young staff were more than capable of tending to our as well as everyone else's needs.

The Verdict

After all these years of wanting to try Ouzeri, I finally did and my curiosity is satisfied.  For a place one does not see or hear much about, it certainly stands as a Plateau neighborhood gem, although of the best-kept-secret type.

Granted the food did have its flaws, and not minor ones I may add; but the overall output, vibe and price point help make up for that.  So, if you're looking for a good time and a moderate meal without breaking the bank, look no further than Ouzeri.

tagged:  SOLID

Price per person:  $35.58


4690 Saint Denis Street
H2J 2L3

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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.

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