I like Greek food, but I've searched Brisbane for many years and not found a Greek cafe or restaurant that really compels me to return. In fact, I've become a bit disillusioned, and pretty much given up trying Greek eateries.
But, a few weeks ago, some companions persuaded me to visit one of my local Greek restaurants, Little Greek Taverna, on the corner of Browning and Boundary streets at West End.
The Little Greek has been there a couple of years now, and always does a roaring trade, so I was willing to go along with the plan. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and an outdoor table beckoned. A smiling waitress quickly brought menus and water, and all the omens seemed good.
The Little Greek has a big menu, with all the usual Greek dishes and some less common ones. Dips ($4) include tzatsiki, tarama, and melitzano (eggplant), but also a roasted capsicum dip that I haven't seen before. Salads ($5-10) go beyond the usual Greek salad to include pickled vegetables and more roasted capsicums, and you can choose from three types of fried cheeses -- haloumi, feta and kefalograviera (all $8 per serve).
Appetizers start at $3 for toasted pita bread and include fried zucchini ($6), stuffed mushrooms ($8), spanakopita ($6) and more.
We were sorely tempted by the pork chops or traditional pork sausages, and by the beef keftedes (traditional Greek meatballs). In the end, though, we chose the chargrilled octopus and calamari to start, followed by barramundi and salad, a chicken souvlaki, and yemista (oven-cooked vegetables stuffed with meat, rice and herbs).
The calamari was good, but spicy (a little too spicy for me, but perfect for the chilli-lovers in our group), and the octopus tentacles won everybody's approval. Crunchy, tasty and beautifully presented, they disppeared quickly.
Our mains were fine, though not as impressive as the starters. Both the yemista and the barramundi were tasty and were relatively low-fat options, which can be hard to find in Greek eateries. Servings were generous, and the lemon potatoes that accompanied my fish were suitably tangy. The chicken souvlaki were a good version of a Greek standard.
As we ate, we got chatting with some other diners nearby, who said they were regular visitors to the Little Greek. They recommended the pork chops highly, and said that there are definitely particular dishes that are stand-outs.
Having polished off our mains, we asked our friendly waitress to bring a dessert menu. From a small but tempting range, we chose honey puffs, galaktoboureko (custard slice) and semolina cake. All were good, and great value at $12 for the lot.
In fact, the whole meal was great value. Even with a public holiday surcharge of 15%, our bill for three totalled around $100, which I consider pretty reasonable. We paid quickly and went on our way, freeing up our table for the next wave of keen diners.
So, what's my verdict? Well, the Little Greek Taverna gave us friendly service; a great, street-side vibe; and affordable food that ranged from fine to very good. Bearing in mind that I have yet to try many of the Little Greek's specialties, I think I have finally found a Greek restaurant that will lure me back.