Posted Jun 1, 2018 at 12:01 AM
Updated Jun 2, 2018 at 11:06 AM
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Athenian Owl shines bright. Considering that it’s been open only three months, our party of five was impressed.
I hadn’t set foot in the space in years — since it was Cha Cha’s Authentic Mexican. The newly designed space was bright, open and inviting. Despite a full house of patrons when we arrived at 7:30, the noise level wasn’t elevated. Bonus points for the tables being spaced out.
Run by the former Athens Café owners, the menu touts authentic Greek classics from lamb souvlaki to papoutsakia to baklava. Our young server was attentive and politely put up with our chatty group. He led us through the menu, offering up personal recommendations and popular dishes.
We started with the hummus and tztatziki ($4.95) with warm, fresh pita bread. The hummus is thick and not overpowering, and the tztatziki was dotted with fresh vegetables and loaded with garlic.
Our server recommended the vegetarian rolled grape leaves ($7m also available with meat). Served warm with a light lemon sauce, these quickly vanished. Another standout was the delicate plate of spanakopita ($7) — phyllo dough-draped spinach, onion and feta pies. They were so good we asked for a second order.
Entrees come with either a Greek salad or soup and crusty Greek bread with dipping oil and spices. Of the three soups, I chose the lemony avgolemono with chicken and rice and was impressed by the subtle lemon flavor and overall texture — neither too chunky nor too runny.
One of my tablemates ordered the special — a massive platter with two large, tender grilled porkchops accompanied by a mix of cooked zucchini, spinach, artichoke hearts and a bit of cheese.
The chicken riganato entree ($15.25) was calling my name: thin, flattened pieces of chicken swimming in a sea of lemony white wine goodness with salty capers, sautéed mushrooms and oregano? Yes, please. The sauce was delightful and I thoroughly enjoyed sopping it up with the complimentary baked bread.
For dessert our server kindly brought out a complimentary platter of individually cut cakes topped with a not-too-sweet cherry compote. (We were told the owners’ seven-year-old daughter helped create it — kudos to a talented up-and-coming pastry chef.) Intrigued by the baklava cheesecake ($6.95) one of our tablemates was allergic to nuts, so we skipped it on this visit.
From the service to the quality of the food and price, Athenian Owl offers a stellar experience worth recommending.
Caron Streibich is an avid food-lover who will review restaurants every other week in the Life section. Follow her dining adventures at facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.