It’s not often that I visit the North Shore. The West Side of Vancouver pretty much has everything and anything anyone could ever need or want, really, unless you need to visit bigger warehouses and the like, I suppose. As for food and restaurants, I haven’t found that the North Shore has anything spectacularly amazing to offer in comparison that you can’t get on the West Side. With these sorts of opinions, it’s not too surprising that I didn’t and don’t find Anatoli Souvlaki that outstanding or special… Of course, I’m also biased about Greek food, since it’s so simple to prepare but so expensive and overpriced at restaurants! However, that isn’t to say that Anatoli Souvlaki doesn’t have some great food! I stand by the opinion that Greek food is way too expensive, though. At least at Anatoli Souvlaki, you get some pretty fair quality food.
To start with, the setting – or at least the interior – is really nice. A far cry from the few Greek places I’ve been on the West Side. Some might think the restaurant management is “trying too hard” to give the restaurant a Greek feel, but I would disagree. It had a relatively authentic feel and creates a great dining atmosphere. The music is pleasantly low-key and adds to the setting… Makes for a better dining experience.
Emme and I visited for lunch one day when we weren’t patient enough to travel all the way back to the West Side after an appointment in North Van, and settled for Anatoli Souvlaki. (We weren’t patient enough to try the Japanese restaurants that we knew nothing about! Especially not me, the “authentic Japanese food” snob.) There were quite a few people inside, but it was still quiet and we got a great seat next to the front windows. The waiters were all friendly and accommodating, initially, but we did end up with one server (who brought our food) who was quite snarky. Hit and miss with the service, perhaps?
I had already eaten a pretty big breakfast, so I wasn’t too hungry and ordered Fasolada, a “hearty bean soup”, with a Greek salad on the side and some pita. Unfortunately, my opinion after my own dish was that one should probably stick to ordering the restaurant’s specialty, which, you can gauge from the name, is probably the souvlaki. The soup was definitely what I’d call “hearty”, and the soup was more oily and less tomato-y, bean-y, or hearty than the fasolada stews I’ve had in other Greek restaurants. The miniscule Greek salad was $8… and the feta cheese was not real! Just those dry feta crumbles, not the fresh stuff. Yep, I was very disappointed. Back to the soup, however – on top of being oily and very watery, it was hugely lacking in flavour. The slosh marks on the side of the bowl do detract from presentation, but I can’t really blame them since it’s pretty hard to carry soup in a bowl without it moving around a liiittle bit. The chopped herbs on top were a nice garnish, but must’ve been old since they had no taste. The bulk of my meal I would describe as “lacking”. The side pita, though kind of soggy with oil, was suuuuper delicious! I do wish it were a little drier, and it would’ve been nice if it had come with hummous… but yes, still very good, and very fresh.
Emme was clever, took a hint from the name, and ordered Lamb Souvlaki. It came with rice, buttery potatoes, Greek salad, and tzatziki on the side. It was supposed to come with pita as well, but there was none. (I had to order mine separately, after the meal came, so I don’t know why they omitted it from Emme’s meal?) This peeved me since I like getting your money’s worth when you eat out, though Emme didn’t mind and said she wouldn’t have been able to eat all of it anyway… In any case, what was served was preeeeetty darn good. The lamb was tender and bursting with flavour, with a lovely grilled taste and definitely not too oily. The buttered potatoes were a little overdone, but the rice was tasty and mixed with some fresh herbs. Emme’s Greek salad was no better and no bigger than mine, but at least the veggies were relatively fresh, though the tomatoes were lacking in flavour despite the fact that we went over the summer. The tzatziki was fantastic and the perfect coolant to serve with the hot lamb souvlaki. If anything, definitely get the lamb or sockeye salmon to get your full worth out of the meal. I’ll bet the chicken’s great too, but lamb doesn’t tend to be something people eat often… and it’s a great treat, especially when done well!
Anyway, my soup may have been terrible, the feta disappointing, but the souvlaki is pretty great. Everything is still overpriced (especially the dips!), and the service seems to have the tendency to be either really great or really rude, but the overall experience is still enjoyable. For the authentic Greek feel of the restaurant and for the souvlaki, I would recommend Anatoli Souvlaki. For cheap Greek food, and for anything aside from the souvlaki, I wouldn’t. The hummous and other dips, while expensive, aren’t worth it I find and aren’t that outstanding (I have had them on other visits!). Nevertheless… If I were to recommend any Greek restaurant in Vancouver, I would probably recommend Anatoli Souvlaki.
Food: 3.5 (Souvlaki alone would be 4.5!)
Value: 2 (expensive!)