Birthday dinners at nice restaurants have always been an important tradition among my family and something everyone looks forward to, whether it’s their turn or not. My birthday isn’t until Wednesday, but since my parents are about to embark on an Alaskan cruise we decided to go a little early this year.
Omonia Restaurant on Danforth Ave. is one of the first Toronto restaurants Cari and I visited when she first came up to Toronto for a visit in the summer of 2003. After a positive experience, it became our Greek restaurant of choice, especially during patio season.
About two years ago, Omonia closed and underwent a substantial renovation. When the restaurant reopened, not only was the interior a lot warmer and more stylish, the food and menu were presented in a way not normally associated with the family-style Greek restaurants we were used to.
Cari actually took me to the revamped Omonia for my birthday last year, just the two of us. This year, I decided it might be fun to return with the whole family.
We had a fantastic experience – the food was delectable, the service friendly and celebratory, and the atmosphere extremely relaxing (which, after a particularly busy work week was most welcome).
We started with a bottle of Greek white wine and the Cold Pikilia Platter ($20), which features pita and olives alongside all of Omonia’s dips – tzatziki, taramosalata, humus, tirokafteri, melitzanosalata and scordalia. Cari and I have enjoyed the smaller platter of three dips before, but this was our first experience with the larger plate. Everything was delicious, but why is it that they never bring enough pita around the first time?
I couldn’t not order saganaki opa. It’s so delicious, even if the whole lighting the plate on fire and shouting “opa!” is kind of tacky. Mmm… fried cheese.
Then came the obligatory greek salad, and it was at about this point that we overheard a man shouting at the top of his lungs that it was someone’s birthday and we should all sing “Happy Birthday” together. I looked to my left and saw a slightly embarrassed man on the receiving end. I knew the same treatment would be heading my way, and this was confirmed when our waitress asked for my name a few minutes later.
Back to the meal. Normally I stick with gyro or souvlaki as an entree when going to Greek restaurants, but this time I felt like trying something a bit different. That’s how I ended up ordering the Stuffed Lamb Exohiko ($18). Oh my goodness… chunks of lamb, kefalotyri cheese, onions, green peppers, olives and feta cheese stuffed in a filo pastry and served alongside rice and roasted potatoes. So, so good. I’ll definitely be ordering this dish again.
At this point in the meal, I was beyond stuffed. But the waitress came over and asked what I’d like for dessert. I ordered a cappuccino, but she persuaded me to order a piece of white chocolate blueberry cheesecake so that they could sing happy birthday to me as well.
Sure enough, the same loud man encouraged the entire restaurant to sing “Happy Birthday” to me, and sure enough, I looked around and saw complete strangers singing “Happy Birthday, dear Adam.” It certainly made for a memorable night. My cake was brought to me along with a complementary shot of sambuca which had been lit on fire.
All in all, a great meal and a great night.