Three Cheers for Opa!

Visited On: April 1, 2011
Gluten Free Menu: No
Server Knowledge:
Server Attitude:
Variety of Gluten-Free Options: 1/2
Overall Gluten-Friendly Rating: 1/2
Price Range: $15-$30 (plus drinks, tax, and tip)

I have always wanted to eat at Opa but every time I have tried, I haven’t been able to get a table. Mike also had bad experiences at the location on Argyle Street. However, I managed to talk him into trying the Dartmouth Crossing location this past Friday. On this windy, rainy night, the dining room was less than half full, so getting a table was no problem.

Our waiter was very friendly and immediately took our drinks order – Greek white wine for me, Coors Light draft for Mike. As we pored over the menu, Mike immediately noticed a note saying to ask your server about gluten-free options. Excellent start! When our waiter returned, I did just that. He said that the kitchen would be able to make any of the less complex dishes (i.e. nothing stuffed or with pastry) gluten-free. He said that the roast potatoes and rice used a stock that had an infinitesimal amount of gluten, but that I should be fine if my allergy wasn’t the anaphylactic type.

I then asked about the saganaki. This is my favorite Greek dish (Kefalograviera cheese flambéed in brandy) but I haven’t yet found a gluten-free version as flour is usually used to hold it together. “No problem,” he said. “It might look a little bit different but we can do it.”

We decided to give it a try; it was $12 without the seafood option. For our mains, I ordered the house specialty: the rotisserie lamb Souvla, with roast potatoes on the side ($25). Mike ordered Mousaka with a Greek salad ($17). This is probably the most adventurous that we’ve ever been! I’ve never had lamb due to feelings of guilt for my childhood stuffed companion, and Mike has never had anything Greek beyond souvlaki. We both felt, though, that it was time to really give Greek food a try.

Our waiter left us to our drinks, and stopped by the table a few minutes later. He explained that he was going to bring some bread by, but that he could also bring gluten-free pita bread for me if I liked (at an extra cost of $1.25). I jumped at the chance! He brought it by a few minutes later in separate baskets with a plate of oil and vinegar to share for dipping. I should have had my own plate but I didn’t bother asking for one since I was so eager to try the pita bread. It was delightfully fluffy, fresh, herbed, and warm, cut into various shapes for dipping. Mike’s bread was good, but not warm, and in slices. He liked mine better! I found it a real struggle not to eat the whole basket.

I advised Mike to save some bread for the saganaki, which quickly arrived. It was served in true Greek fashion, with the waiter flambéing it tableside in brandy and yelling “Opa!” (Really, cheese on fire? How much better can you get!) The dish was half halloumi cheese and half Kefalograviera, and was absolutely wonderful. The brandy gave the cheese a slight flavour but wasn’t overpowering, and the two types of cheese gave the dish an interesting twist. We had fun trying out different combinations of cheese, bread, and oil and vinegar – although it quickly disappeared.

Our mains arrived quickly after that. Both looked delicious and smelled amazing. I didn’t try Mike’s mousaka since we didn’t know if it was gluten-free, plus he ate it too fast for me to get a chance! (I am pretty sure he said it was delicious around a mouthful.) My first experience with lamb was amazing. The seasoning was delicious, and it was so tender and juicy. (Sorry Stuffins!) As soon as I tasted the potatoes, I remembered that I don’t like the lemony flavour of Greek roast potatoes, so I pretty much left those alone. (Mike ended up having a few bites as he liked them better than his salad. Not a fault of the salad – he’s not a huge fan of greens but figured he needed some vegetables. Clearly we should have reversed our side choices!)

We were absolutely stuffed after polishing off two courses plus the bread, but I wanted to have a look at the dessert menu just to be nosy. I immediately spotted the gluten-free chocolate tortina. I had to try it and convinced Mike to share it with me. Good thing – the plate included two pieces, plus a big scoop of French vanilla ice cream, with raspberry and butterscotch drizzles. It wasn’t outstanding but it was really nice to have chocolate cake!

Dinner for the two of us after tax and tip was just over $100, but I have to say I enjoyed my foray into Grecian food. We’re looking forward to going back soon to try one of their famous sharing platters. Until next time… OPA!

Opa! Greek Taverna
150 Hector Gate (Dartmouth Crossing)
902-481-7999

(Also located at 1565 Argyle Street in downtown Halifax and in Bayers Lake at 215 Chain Lake Drive)
Web Site: http://www.opataverna.com/

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  1. Updates on Our Favourite Places! « Gluten For Punishment

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