The flavors and flair of Greece come to Stamford
Rack of lamb
The magic of a good restaurant that serves foreign food is that for as long as you are tucked up to the table, you feel you are somewhere else, far away. On a frigid, gray winter night in Stamford, wrapped in down and microfiber like human burritos, we pushed into the front door at Eos and suddenly we were in Greece — sunny, sunny Greece, where the sky is turquoise blue and sunlight glitters like polished bronze.
Eos is a relative newcomer in the Stamford restaurant scene, and a very welcome addition. For the most part, if you want to eat Greek food in Connecticut, you must go to a diner, wade through the 10,000-page laminated menu that offers everything from liver and onions to Southern fried chicken, and locate the small list of typical Greek offerings. Eos is for the customer who wants to venture beyond such usual offerings.
We are seated at a white linen-draped table. In an instant the server takes our drink order: mojitos made with freshly squeezed watermelon juice — a neat trick in penguin weather. The menu is manageable in size and easy to navigate. Eos can be very down to earth, offering bountiful salads as well as a mighty Eos burger that is a half pound of beef stuffed with feta cheese, grilled onions, fresh herbs and dressed with a liberal amount of garlic studded tzatziki sauce and a tomato cucumber salad. But if your palate is more adventurous, you might want to sample the freshly grilled octopodi with olive oil and red wine vinegar. The pieces of octopus are discreetly sized, neither tough nor fishy.
Along with the octopus we order a handsome sampling of three dips: fiery feta cheese, tzatziki and roasted eggplant. Served with a basket of perfectly fresh and warm pita quarters, whole wheat and white, the dips (especially the blazing feta) are incontrovertible proof that the kitchen of Eos knows how to do things right. At tables all around us, blue flames leapt from plates. Waiters were setting matches to orders of saganaki, a slab of cheese that is seasoned and doused with brandy before going up in flames. Tableside pyrotechnics never fail to amuse, and Eos’s rendition of this classic hors d’oeuvre is perfect.
By its nature, Greek cuisine is very adaptable. You can come to Eos for nothing but appetizers, a soup and a salad, or you can have only an entrée, with maybe an appetizer as a side dish. It is all very modular; there is no right or wrong way to approach the menu. We adore the Gigantes — huge butter beans baked with fresh herbs and slathered with olive oil and tomato sauce — so meaty they almost could pass as an entreé. An Eos fan we know swears by the souvlaki sticks made of pork, lamb or beef. Most people get a stick or two as an appetizer, but who’s to say that this starter wouldn’t make a great main course if you ordered six of them? It is our belief that no cooks on earth make better roast chicken than Greeks, and while it is not a flamboyant dish, Eos’s chicken is indescribably satisfying. It is not half a bird, as is usual, but rather cutlets of breast meat char-grilled and seasoned with oregano and lemon. On the side come wedges of lemon potatoes, lusciously soft and tangy.
The fish of the day, bronzini, was a standout. The 12-inch fish, grilled with the skin on and bones in, can be had filleted in the kitchen and presented ready to fork up without ado, but we opted for the more rustic way and ordered it whole. Peel back the skin and the white flesh is moist and flavorful.
Grilled lamb chops are another winner —spiced with a bold hand and grilled as requested with a slight pink blush inside. We chose seasoned homemade fries to complement them. If you like your fries brittle, thin and crisp, these are not for you; they are broadly cut swatches of potato, soft and yummy and almost motherly in their benevolent mouth feel.
After feasting our way through the menu, we made the usual shamed apology for being unbridled pigs and then proceeded to order half the desserts available. Our server didn’t so much as raise her eyebrow, suggesting that people regularly eat large at Eos. The desserts are huge, the plates decorated in modern fashion with swirls of chocolate syrup and dustings of cocoa. We ordered a galaktoboureko (filo-wrapped custard), a serving of house made baklava (filo layered with honey, nuts and cinnamon) and a chocolate mousse torte. These were all good, but on a subsequent visit we realized that our favorite of all the Eos desserts are the homemade Greek rice pudding sprinkled with cinnamon and a simple but superior plate of Greek style yogurt topped with honey and walnuts.
Leftovers are wrapped efficiently, the check comes when requested and the servers’ hospitable smiles temper one’s exit back into the cold. From a well thought-out menu, presented by a competent staff to the simple décor of white plaster walls, sculpted to look like waves, we have been transported to a relaxed, friendly world of sunshine and the warm Aegean. Eos wove a spell on us.