Gardens of Salonica: Feast like a Greek


by Jeremy Iggers | April 26, 2009 • What a terrific time we had at Gardens of Salonica last night! We didn’t wear togas, and nobody set any cheese on fire (a tradition that hails from Detroit, not Greece), but this was as festive a dining experience as I have had in a long time. About 30 of us took over the main dining room at one long table (actually, about 10 tables pushed together), and made our way through a Greek feast, accompanied by bottles of rustic Greek wines. The event was billed as a “light dinner, ” but that’s a little like calling the blizzard of 1991 a “light snowfall.”

Iggers Digest is the blog of Jeremy Iggers, the TC Media Alliance’s executive director. Jeremy is also the creator of TCFoodies, a local food networking site.

Everything was served family-style, starting with a Greek salad, grilled and plates of tarama (cod roe), tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt dip, and and kolokithopita, little Macedonian pinwheels with a savory zucchini filling. Bottles of dry white Apelia. robust red Tsantali and piney Retsina were brought to the table, and then came the meats – long ribbons of gyros, and grilled skewers of chicken and lamb souvlaki, followed by yigandes, a vegetarian dish of broad beans in a tomato sauce. Dessert was hardly necessary at this point, but we forced ourselves through several more delicious rounds, including chocolate truffles and little miniature pieces of baklava, and a larger portion of flaky filo pastry stuffed with a custard filling, and then a bougatsa, a beggars purse filled with baked apple, accompanied by vanilla ice cream.

This wasn’t fussy food, or refined gastronomy. Rather it was the kind of hearty, flavorful fare that goes best with an evening where it is the time spent in each others company that matters most. With a smaller group, chef Anna Christoforides might have led us in some Greek dances, but the dining room was too crowded, and by the end of the meal, some of the diners may have been too full for anything so vigorous.

The price was more than reasonable – $18 per person, including wines. Chef Anna priced the dinner so low because it was tied to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, which Gardens of Salonica sponsors, but said she could offer the same menu, for parties of 18 or more, for $25 per person, plus tax and gratuity. A day and a half of advance notice is required. For groups of $10 or more, she also offers a more elaborate version of this dinner for $30-$40, also including wines.

Gardens of Salonica, 19 Fifth St. N.E., Minneapolis, 612-378-0611

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