When my in-laws came to town, they wanted to go out for Greek food. I went into a panic going to Taverna Agora (6101 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612-2613) for the first time; a new restaurant, new food, in front of two people that I really wanted to impress. Luckily for me, I loved every bite there and couldn’t wait to go back. The timing was perfect too, since last Saturday was Greek night!
Even though Greek night was scheduled to start at 10:00, it was at full force when we came in at 9:30. Live music was playing and a belly dancer was working the crowd (although I’m not sure how authentic a belly dancer at a Greek place is. Oh well, it was fun). A lot of pointing and gesturing was needed to communicate with our waiter over the music, but it was great being in a lively restaurant. Towards the end of the night, people were jumping up from their tables to dance.
There was plenty of spectacle at our table too. We started the night with a dish of Saganaki, a flambéed cheese dish with a little bit of citrus added. I love cheese, I love fire, so watching the waiter sit this alight was a pleasure. My only regret is that I wish he left it flaming a tad longer, the ends of the cheese lacked the meltiness of the middle. But I’d rather my waiter keep his eyebrows than have melty cheese, so I understand.
Our Kokinisto Arni was up next. I love lamb, but there’s nothing like braised lamb shank.
*Pic courtesy of Tony’s phone*
The meat wasn’t gamy and was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The sweetness of the meat was nicely matched by the wine-tomato sauce, it added a depth to the flavor. The plate came with a side of potatoes stewed in the same sauce and some sautéd spinach and peppers. The veggies were a hit with us, since they provided a lightness compared to the heaviness of the braised lamb. With that said, the potatoes were unfortunately most untouched. Not that they tasted bad, quite the opposite, but after a heavy meat, the last thing I wanted was a heavy starch.
We ended the night with a glass of Ouzo. Before that, I had a glass of the house Cambas Red Wine. This Greek wine was surprisingly smooth and had a wonderful berry note to it. However, the Ouzo kicked the ass of any alcohol that came before it. It was the first time I ever had it and I am in love. My favorite candy are Necco wafers and Ouzo tastes like an alcoholic licorice Necco wafer. It’s smooth, but with a kick once it reached my throat. It made me want to smash my glass and start dancing. Plus, the new Cook’s Illustrated this month talks about cooking with Ouzo, so it’s nice to have a culinary reason to pick up a bottle, rather than my initial decadent reasons.
We left Taverna Agora with a skip in our steps. Great food, great music, and great drinks, what else could you ask for?