RESTAURANT REVIEW: Nammos Estiatorio, 3980 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BC
With a quick glance at the menu, my husband ordered with such sure confidence, cleverly rolling names that were not at all recognizable to me. Eloquent words full of wonder I would anticipate only hearing if I traveled deep into the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. He had the advantage of having lived in Greece for several years before we met. I questioned what he had just ordered for our first dinner at the, then, newly- opened Nammos Estiatorio Greek Osteria on Vancouver’s Fraser Street, I received a simple response, “don’t worry, just try everything.” Luckily, he married the right gal, I thought.
After a few sips of dark red, blackberry-filled, smoothly tart sangria, the first dish arrived. Our waiter explained this is a popular Greek dish, a promising dish they called “Oktapodi”. It resembled glistening pieces of finely grilled squid, the sides looking like dark purple eggplant, smelling beautifully of pungent garlic and aromatic olive oil. I was unknowingly, yet blissfully, about to try octopus for the very first time.
I now understood why my husband took it upon himself to order. I left my past Greek restaurant prejudices at the door and allowed myself to experience traditional, authentic, Greek-style dining, as done in Greece. I looked around and realized there was already a difference between Nammos and every other Greek restaurant I had ever visited thus far. Giant letters on the side wall greeted us with the word “Yiamas” which means “Cheers” or “To Your Health.” The blue and white décor with a lot of benched seating perpetuated that family-style mealtime vibe. Vibrant Greek music filled the room. Our fellow diners chattered, with not a quiet table in site. Romantic murmurs of Greek, the subtle clanging of glasses of house red, and the aroma of olives filled the space. I relished the ambiance and could feel love and joy oozing around.
The menu was full of singular dishes, meant to be shared. There were no platters with grossly large servings, as you normally see at any other Greek restaurant, of rice, lemon potatoes, skewers, and pita bread all on one plate. That, I was told, is not how they eat in Greece. Each item on the menu is listed in Greek, with the explanation below. However, the wait staff are ready to make suggestions and explain how to enjoy the shared plates, as well as the pronunciation of each, and if you visit enough, you will catch on.
I enjoyed perusing the drink menu, which their resident mixologist enthusiastically reviewed with me. Seeing I was undecisive (everything sounded try-worthy), he recommended the red sangria (priced at a cool $10) and the featured drink, made of gin, muddled mint, soda, berries and house-made syrup ($13). I appreciated his warning about eating the house-made 24-hour pre-soaked berries that alone can give you a swift buzz…, which they did.
It sounds cliché, but there is nothing I truly didn’t love at this little slice of Greek heaven. In the many times I have visited I have become accustomed to a few favourites. I recommend starting with Tirokafteri, a cold dip made of salty feta and roasted red peppers, with a splash of heat, served with fresh, slightly crunchy, pita wedges ($9), and trying the Dolmathes ($12), which are beef-filled lemony vine leaves, served with a tangy yogurt sauce; the tartness with the cool yogurt is divine. If you love seafood, get the Garida Saganaki, prawns cooked in tomato and feta, with a touch of ouzo ($13) or be adventurous and go for the Oktapodi ($17), after all…when in Greece. For mains, I enjoy the lamb, which reminds me cooking is an art. If you love lamb chops, order the Paidakia ($8.50 for 2 pieces), the mixture of marinade and grilling makes you want to eat directly off the bone, in fact, I guarantee you will lick the bones after. Otherwise, the Arni Pisto is a must ($25), which is slow oven-roasted, juice-flowing, fall-off-the-fork at a touch lamb shoulder, served with lemon potatoes. A tip: always get a side order of tzatziki ($9), you will use that with everything. For dessert, you cannot get more authentic than an order of Loukoumades ($10), the Greek version of donut balls, crunchy on the outside, warm and soft inside, drizzled in honey (or Nutella) and a perfectly symbiotic dusting of sesame seeds.
With all the notes achieved by Nammos, I was pleased with the affordability, in fact, shocked. I have tried and tested the dinner setting with my children, my parents, as well as a group of friends, and it is safe to say, I have always left truly fulfilled—my belly, my heart, and my head (especially after eating a soaked berry).
If you are looking for a true Mediterranean experience in Fraserhood, crave-worthy authentic Greek food, and not in a rush (as part of the experience is enjoying the flavours slowly and enjoying the company you are with), do yourself a service and visit Nammos Estiatorio.
There is something for everyone! Whether you are vegetarian, love seafood, or a fan of red meat…everything is available and cooked to perfection. The menu is conveniently broken up into appetizers and mains (to be shared) and desserts. Each item is provided with a Greek name and described in English.
Because everything is meant to be shared, and it is a family-friendly environment my kids enjoy coming here. Their favourite is the spaghetti, paidakia, and Greek fries.
Hands down, amazing staff. From hostess, to waiting staff, to bartenders, and even the owners who do walk around the restuarant…everyone is super-friendly, kind and helpful. You will feel like part of the family with one visit.
It’s my favourite restaurant…yes, I recommend!
Photos courtesy of Nammos Estiatorio.
This post was not sponsored, all opinions are my own.