There are not very many places for light-on-the-wallet eats in Edgewater. While Sir Pizza used to fill the bill, even though it was nowhere near the Key Biscayne original.
So when Sir Pizza unexpectedly stopped opening its doors a few months without any warning or sign (and no one answered my email inquiries as to what happened), those who lived near the lonesome corner on Northeast 29th Street and Biscayne were desultory.
So last week when a banner that read "Eat Greek" went up, we decided to check it out for dinner.
We felt like we had walked into some Greek underground cafe. The décor isn't the expected blue and white Greek island scheme that you see at Greek places all over town. Instead, black tables fill the cavernous space and murals of Greek gods line the walls.
A kiosk is a replica of the ones you find on the streets in Greece. It proffers products straight from Greece. Think Vikos water, Kalas sea salt, a whole lot of chocolate, honey, and other goods.
Walking up the counter we were greeted with by a nude David and a big white smile from two guys that look like they could easily be twins. Perhaps it was the matching kilts. Yes, they were wearing kilts here. They were also friendlier and far more hospitable than any casual restaurant nearby. The owner, by the way, is also the chef.
His name is Dimotakis Vasilios, or Vaseline for short. Kidding. "That's what they used to call me." His nickname is Billy. Billy was born in Montreal but his background is Greek, and he lived in Greece for nine years. While this isn't his first restaurant (he and his father owned places in both Montreal and Greece) it's his first in Miami.
His other business, Smart Screens Media, is responsible for all the screens you see in bathrooms. "Next up are elevators." When he frees up from cooking Greek food, that is. His hands are full with the second Eat Greek location. The first, located on Alton Road where the Meatball Joint used to be, is a sliver of a space. "We have only eight seats and you can never get one." To keep busy, the restaurant also offers delivery and takeout for the South Beach community.
His move to Midtown was spurred by the lack of food offerings in the area. "I live in Midtown and there's really nothing to eat around here. At least nothing like what we offer." Those offerings include pretty much anything Greek you can think of. From appetizers like hummus, tzatziki, babaganoush, grilled octopus, and appollo cigars to fresh salads, gyros, and souvlaki's, Eat Greek is your source for eating all things Greek.
Some of which you might not have even realized existed. Ask questions. The waitstaff here will answer all with a smile on their face. Don't be surprised if they treat to you to chocolates from the kiosk just cause. On my first visit, we decided to try the skepasti ($12.99) "It's like a Greek quesadilla with fries inside." Yes please, we'll take two of those. "That's too much. One will leave both of you feeling full." Billy was not only right, but it was a fresh of breath air not having people try to oversell you on something and just easily taking the order to make an extra sell. Per his recommendation, we went with the chicken snitzel with babaganoush. My roommate is already thinking of when she's going to break her diet to have it again.
A vertical garden wall in the kitchen grows fresh herbs, and Billy assures that the quality of his ingredients is the highest possible (and the price low). "All of our greens and vegetables are all organic. We unfortunately don't use grass-fed beef or free range chicken because that would put us in a whole other playing field when it comes to food cost, but our meat is quality stuff and our fish is brought in fresh from Greece every Friday. We like to say we're partially organic."
And it's none of that farmed stuff. Billy gets in wild branzino, sea bream, and dorado. Because they aren't farmed, the fish vary in size. "Once they're gone they're gone." On a second visit, I got one of the few branzino's left.
While my fish was cooking, I struck up conversation with a table sitting next to me. The Greek couple ordered these lamb chops ($19.99), which they so kindly let me photographed and assured me they were authentic and delicious. "Just like in Grecia. I'm bringing my father here for lunch."
Check out this branzino
Photos by Carla Torres
The branzino is cooked in nothing but olive oil, lemon, and salt. It needs nothing more because the fresh meat of the fish speaks for itself. The price varies depending on the size of each fish, but for this serving Eat Greek charges a very reasonable $24.
It also comes with a standard Greek salad. "We even use the highest quality olive oil."
Traditional baklava or cheesecake baklava ($4.99) is available. The cheesecake one is amaze-balls. Yeah, I just said amaze-balls. That's how good it is.
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Eventually, Billy will start delivery just like the South Beach location. "Once we've got everything running how it should be, we'll incorporate other things." Think a cart for Greek meals on the go "Lasagna, stuffed peppers, that kind of stuff. Everything with time, we just opened a week ago and I have yet to even get my beer and wine license." For now, however, vino is on Billy. Or you can always bring your own and they'll uncork it. Now that's what you call Greek hospitality.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha