4785 Sherbrooke St W./Grosvenor Ave.
Phone: (514) 938-5656
Cost: $ 175.00
Chef Hats: 4
Like many immigrant communities, Montreal’s Greek community is a prominent part of that distinct mosaic of what makes Montreal special. The influx of new Greek immigrants started with a major earthquake that hit the Ionian Islands in 1953. It started a mass exodus from Greece with many ex-pats ending up in Canada. Economic issues and a laxer immigration policy led many others to leave Greece by the 1960’s. By the early 70’s the Greeks of Montreal had carved niche by starting their own associations, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas. They settled mainly in the community of Parc-Extension known as “Little Greece” and later moved to neighborhoods like Chomedy, Laval and Dollard des Ormeaux in the West Island. Thus, permeating the Montreal landscape with Greek culture and food in pockets here and there. While Parc-Ex and Mile End still remain the hubs of Greek culture and have given us classic institutions like Marven’s, Tripoli, Milos, Mythos and Afroditi Bakery. Greek food and culture have also implanted itself into other neighborhoods and the suburbs over the last 50 years so we can all can enjoy and partake in the culture.
Like many other Montrealer’s my initiation to Greek food began in the early 80’s at Marven’s restaurant on Ball St in Park extension. We would often go to eat tons of tzatziki with their large thick slabs of bread and platters of lamb or pork shish kebabs with ample rice, potatoes and salad. Some days, as a special treat we would share a platter of fried calamari. We thought they were the best, so did half of Montreal. The line ups were long and we would wait for hours. It was during that period that I also began working at the RVH hospital, then nestled between the Golden Square Mile, Le Plateau and Mile end. I savored homemade foods like spanakopita’s, pasticcio and moussaka which my colleagues would gladly share on their lunchbreaks. During the holidays, we would get platters of cookies and sweets like Kourabiedes, Melomakarona and Baklava.
By the mid 80’s, with a little bit more money in our pockets, we ventured out to the then popular brochetterie’s like Le Vieux Duluth, Casa Grecque, Le Roi du Souvlaki on a weekly basis and many more that lined the streets of Prince Arthur, Duluth and Park Avenue. We did have two favorite fast-food restaurants that we often frequented, one was Kojax-downtown on St. Catherine located between Bishop and Guy which became our afterhours hang out for a quick bite before the clubs closed and we headed home. The latter was Arachova on St. Viateur, where the tzatziki was creamier and the pita thicker. Of course, we would grab bagels for breakfast across the street at St-Viateur Bagel before heading home as well. By our thirties we had graduated to fancier establishments like the Psotaverna Symposium, Mythos, Jardin de Panos and Phillinos. Milos was still out of our league. These days Greek restaurants are moving away from the brochetterie’s style eateries and we are getting better quality Mediterranean fare with the likes of Lesvos West, Elounda, Panama, Ikanos and Petros.
Last August, in the three months that the restaurants were open after the first wave of the pandemic hit, we had the pleasure of sampling Petros in Westmount for a special occasion. I had heard that it had a wonderful terrasse and the food was very good. Upon walking in it reminded me very much of the Psotaverna Symposium on Park avenue 20 years ago with its blue doors of Aegean Blue. Except it was not in the basement and it was much brighter and more modern than the Psotaverna. Must say that the menu items and the quality came close. The cuisine is simple and unpretentious. Petros is also a bring your own wine, which does not make the food any less expensive. The service and décor are casual but very comfortable and hospitable.
This evening we decided on ordering something light on this warm night, so we went with the Seafood Platter. It contained ample amounts of Grilled Calamari and Octopus, Seabream and Grilled shrimp for $ 150.00. This dish serves four people, once divided it is $ 37.50 per person which is not too expensive. But it will yield 1 shrimp per person and a few handfuls of fish and seafood. The best way to go if you want more of a particular dish is to order a la carte- and individual meals and then maybe share. Petros also has fresh fish by the pound on the menu which is worth a try. Our seafood platter was absolutely delicious and everything was fresh and cooked to perfection. Not over cooked or dry and tough. All the seafood and fish contained the right seasoning and flavors followed with extra lemon wedges.
We also had three vegetables of our choice that came served with the seafood platter. Oven baked potatoes wedges, a large head of broccoli and two types of green beans, one plain drizzled with a little olive oil and another made in tomato sauce. The vegetable side was a simple and a little mediocre. The potatoes were too soft and overcooked and lacked that special Greek flavor of fresh rosemary or lemon. The broccoli was generous but just boiled and the green beans also lacked in seasoning like garlic and salt.
For dessert, sampled a decadent creamy chocolate cake for the birthday girl and a large Loukoumades, with a side order of yogurt and honey and Corinth grapes better known as Zante grapes from the Ionian coast. The dessert was exquisite and hit the spot.
Service was casual, warm and friendly. The décor was typical of a Greek restaurant with its colors of blue inspired by the Mediterranean Sea. It was not tacky but tastefully done. We were till in pandemic stage a month after the restaurants reopened in summer but proper measures were taken for the safety of its clientele. Social distancing for seating and placement of tables were in effect. The restaurant was all but empty except for people on the terrasse and a large group opposite us against the wall. The waiters all wore proper PPE and we had to serve our own wine for our own safety. Petros is a definite return in better times.