1.4.13

Effes Mediterranean Grill

http://effesgrill.ca/

This place was chosen to celebrate Grandfather’s 75th birthday, so it was primarily his call. To be honest, we would not have visited here otherwise – Effes is located on Keele and Highway 7 in a somewhat obscure plaza. Based on the area, people most come in for lunch - those working in the area. Furniture stores, small manufacturers, warehouses for the nearby rail juncture… Not a typical environment for a culinary adventure. But then again, who knows. Maybe it is a true “hidden gem”.

APPEARANCE
clear, pale yellow, inconspicuous and not very promising bottle
No cars parked at the front, really minimal lighting, a brick arched entrance made us feel like we are in Greece, despite the large parking lot. Their brand is nothing too memorable or heavily invested in. We shyly walked in to be warmly greeted by, presumably by the owner. From what we understood, they did not really plan to be open today. Better for us! All attention will be to our party of seven. The place looked decidedly better inside. The furnishings were somewhat simple, but very functionally set up. Not much decoration besides that - red spot lights, white walls, blue tiled ceiling putting you in the mood for some authentically cooked hearty meal. The entrants are greeted by a display of baklava in a nicely lid glassed cabinet. Grandpa ceremonially announced that these would be our dessert when the time comes.

NOSE
citrusy, interesting flower hints and rose tones
A typical family gathering for a birthday party involving all the pleasantries and the giving of presents takes a bit of time. Being in a center of attention has its drawbacks, the ratio of employees to guests was pretty close to 1:1. By the time we were actually ready to order, the waitress was already very eager to start. We did get a loaded bruschetta as an appetizer on the house in the meantime and asked for some beer and wine. That bruschetta was finger-licking good, indeed. The menu was rich with options, but could be a bit more elegant in its appearance. At the same time, it left a cozy feeling as something that was put together lovingly. The waitress herself was very nice and accommodating. She seemed to understand the needs of a big Eastern European family. No surprise, she herself was not too culturally remote from this - being from Kalmykia, Russia.

SWIRL
not very long legs hints of honey and bee wax
I ordered a lamb soulvaki and Ma Cherie went for yogurt chicken with tomato basil sauce. The lamb was served with a side of bulgur and a salad while the chicken was complimented by baked potatoes, both our choices. We also asked for their house wines- red and white to match our meals. The portion size is the main concern in Mediterranean places. We already anticipated that we will be eating what we order for at least next day for lunch. In addition, we got some platters to share with standard fare – humus, tubule, pickled mushrooms, etc. That was already filling on its own so we were afraid to face the main course.

PALATE
floral, fruity taste, some evidence of developing character
And the food arrived…lots of it. My lamb was truly delicious, with bulgur side a bit drier than I would have preferred it to be. I normally do not mind the lamb smell (occasionally enjoy it even) and this meat was really well balanced. It had just a hint of smell, enough to give it definition, but did not overwhelm. Even Ma Cherie was able to enjoy a few pieces. Bulgur could use a bit more sauce, but I should have probably addressed this issue myself. The yogurt chicken was covered in thick tomato-peppers base, and could have used a stronger character when it came to herbs and salt. The side of baked potatoes had hint of paprika, and plenty of fresh parsley. Got us talking about cooking something similar soon - a good sign. Overall the whole experience left a very pleasant feeling. It truly felt like a home-made meal.
We all took food to go, but had to go for those baklavas, as we promised. We had all the different ones with a side of their home black tea - served in the traditional Turkish tulip cups.

FINISH
light and fresh
The owner personally thanked us as we were walking out. We would definitely recommend this venue for an authentic Mediterranean fare. The place worth checking in the summer, looks like they have a decent patio.

Overall, a surprisingly under-appreciated Chenin Blanc
Effes Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

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