Sunday, 12 May 2013

Casual Dining - LIttle Greek Taverna

I love Greek food and have done so for as long as I can remember.  My first experience with Greek food was when I was a very young boy and my Mum serving me some Yiros (simply marinated lamb cooked over a spit) and then falling in love with the wonderfully flavoured meat.  Growing up in Adelaide I was exposed to a wide range of Greek restaurants due to a large Greek population and remember quite fondly eating many Yiros while there.

That all changed in 1992 when I moved to Brisbane and found that there was a relatively small Greek population in the Sunshine state and this was reflected in the number of Greek takeaway restaurants.  Simply put, I could not find any decent Greek cuisine and in particular I could not find any of the wonderful Yiros meat that I had grown to love.

What I did find was popular in Brisbane was the Turkish equivalent, the Kebab, which for me was the poor man's version of that delicious marinated lamb.  As time went on and I had given up hope of finding decent Yiros in Brisbane, I eventually found a number of establishments around Brisbane that served a half decent Yiros.  Then one day there seemed to be an abundance of places that served my favourite take away food, particularly in West End and this is where I first came into contact with the Little Greek Taverna.

SC and I decided that we would head over to the Little Greek Taverna for lunch and of course we picked one of the worst days of the year to visit a restaurant without a reservation!  Mothers Day is one of the busiest days of the year for many restaurants and we were almost out of luck when we rocked up to the counter and asked for a seat.  We were lucky enough to score the last two seats in the restaurant before the busy lunch sitting was to begin, score!

We were seated and given a couple of menus to study and then settled in for the long haul, there were just so many customers seated that we knew that it would take a while to have our orders taken and the food delivered.  Surprisingly, the wait wasn't as long as we expected and the friendly yet slightly rushed waitress took our orders and was off to the next table.

We decided that we would get a bit of a spread of foods with a couple of entrees to share and some mains that we would not!  First up was pretty much the quintessential Greek entree, grilled haloumi cheese.  The haloumi that was presented to us had the perfect colouring that indicated that it had been cooked to perfection and was drizzled in a lemon based olive oil.  The haloumi was really tasty and had a wonderful texture that just melted in your mouth yet was still a little rubbery.  It was a really nice start to the meal.

The other share entree was the chargrilled pork souvlaki, or pork skewers.  There are two very traditional meats used in Greek cooking pork and goat, so I was keen to see how the pork souvlaki would taste.  The pork came presented without the skewers, so it made eating the little bites of pork much easier.  The pork was perhaps just slightly over cooked and some of the pieces were a little dry, but when dipped in the cooking oil that came with the pork, helped balance out the dryness.  There was a lovely crispy and crunchy caramelisation on the pork that was really good.

There were quite a few specials available on the day and SC chose the Yemista from the specials menu.  The Yemista is essentially stuffed red capsicum, with the filling comprising of beef mince, rice and herbs.  The dish itself looked lovely with two massive capsicums and a side of Greek salad that looked really fresh.  The stuffing in the capsicums was full of flavour and delicious and when combined with the red capsicum provided a hearty and tasty meal.  I don't particularly like capsicum, but the stuffing I tasted was really nice and SC assured me that I was missing out by not trying the capsicum with it!

There was never any doubt that I would choose the Yiros as my main and when it was delivered I was pretty excited.  However, and this is a big however, this was more like roast lamb than the Yiros that I have come to know and love.  That's not to say that I didn't think it was OK, it was, it was just not what I was expecting.  There was not much flavour in the meat and it tasted a bit bland.  In addition to the flavour, the size and texture of the Yiros was all wrong too.  It should have been smaller in size and had more crunch and texture through the cooking.  I ended up disappointed with the dish for no other reason that it was not what I expected!

There is always a danger when you have super high expectations about a food that you have eaten a million times over the years.  I had a pretty clear set of expectations about the Yiros that just were not met.  It's strange, I have been to the Little Greek Taverna before for take away Yiros that was really good, so I am not sure what happened.

Most of the meal that we had at the Little Greek Taverna was really quite nice and apart from the fact that the Lamb didn't match my expectations of what Yiros should be like, the visit was a good one.  The staff were pretty friendly and did really well on a day where there were wall to wall people all out to enjoy Mothers day.  At least the risk we took by walking from the CBD to West End to specifically visit the Little Greek Taverna paid off with the last two seats!


Fresh and delicious Greek Salad - warning, the pepper is HOT
Rush Rush Rush, so very busy on Mothers Day
Every Seat was taken
Little Greek Taverna
Little Greek Taverna on UrbanspoonLittle Greek Taverna


  1. I've seen this place on the corner a few times and always wondered what it's like, but every time we go for greek we end up at Lefkas Taverna (also in West End). It's not near the main drag in West End but it's worth the trip!

    ps. I don't work for Lefkas, just a lover of Yiros. PS. their take-away menu is much cheaper!

  2. Haha Dave, I completely agree. I have been going to Lefkus for a very long time and love their pork yiros, its the closest you can get to a real yiros in Queensland.

    My partner and I have spent many a night down at the Brisbane river with a yiros watching the sun slowly set!

    I will be heading over there soon for a review but this weekend is all about Panyiri


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