Estia Offers Lots of Gluten-Free Options, But Inconsistent Food

Visited On: January 18, 2014
Gluten Free Menu: Yes
Server Knowledge:
Server Attitude:
Variety of Gluten-Free Options:
Overall Gluten-Friendly Rating:
Overall Dining Experience: 081513_1437_TheWorksNee3.jpg
Price Range: $15-$25 (plus drinks, tax, and tip)

Several weeks ago, we finally got a chance to try Estia, a Greek restaurant on Spring Garden Road. Although we arrived right around suppertime on a Saturday night, there were lots of empty tables and we were seated right away. (It took much longer for a server to arrive and give us menus, however.) After ordering drinks, I asked for the gluten-free menu. It’s basically a copy of the regular menu with items marked “GF” as appropriate. There are also a few sections (such as the pastas and sandwiches) that are completely different. Everything in those sections is gluten-free, so items are not individually marked. I found this a bit confusing, to be honest. In fact, the menu overall confused me. There were many items that sounded delicious but not very Greek, like the Philly Cheesesteak wrap, Chicken Parmigiana panini, and veal scallopine.

While we were pondering the menu options, our waitress brought by gluten-free bread for me and regular bread for Mike, as well as separate dipping plates with oil and vinegar. I was really glad that she was aware of cross-contamination without me even saying anything, and felt like we were off to a great start. My bread was lightly grilled, while Michael’s was warmed, and both were delicious.

We eventually decided on the grilled Halloumi ($9) as an appetizer. I ordered the prosciutto-stuffed chicken ($21), while Michael got the special, a goat-cheese stuffed chicken with mushroom risotto ($22). The grilled Halloumi didn’t take long to arrive. The cheese was perfectly grilled, with a bit of herb oil on top, surrounded by a bed of greens with a light dressing. It was amazing! We devoured it in no time and hoped that our entrées would be just as good.

Sadly, we were both very let down when our main meals arrived. My dish featured gluggy, flavourless mushroom risotto (with exactly two mushrooms in it), accompanied by some grilled vegetables. The chicken was a disaster. It had been butterflied and extremely overcooked, leaving it dry and rubbery (almost to the point of being inedible). It was spread out over a pile of gunk that was supposed to contain prosciutto, mozzarella, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and herbs, but all you could really identify was the tomatoes. The mess was topped by some sort of creamy stuff that was supposed to have saffron but was pretty flavourless also.

Mike’s dish was slightly better. Although it had the same dodgy risotto and vegetables, his chicken was breaded and the stuffing inside was amazing. His chicken was overcooked too but the stuffing and breading made up for it.

Estia does have a few gluten-free desserts (including a flourless chocolate torte, Greek yogurt, and rice pudding), but we decided to pass. We left underwhelmed with our entire experience and feeling like we probably won’t be going back to Estia anytime soon. Our appetizer was amazing, they have plenty of gluten-free options (hence the high overall gluten-friendly rating), and our server was knowledgeable, but the service overall was very slow and my main course was a disaster. If you’re looking for Greek food, there are lots of better places to get it in HRM.

Estia Restaurant
5518 Spring Garden Road (Downtown Halifax)
Web Site:


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  1. #1 by Dave on February 4, 2014 - 7:05 pm

    Yikes, sounds like a disaster 😦 As long as you’re putting star ratings on things at the top, perhaps a “food quality” rating might be in order….as the four stars all around initially made me think this might be a fabulous place to go. Then I read the article. lol!

    • #2 by glutenfree4hfx on February 4, 2014 - 7:11 pm

      It was really disappointing! I agree, I’m thinking we need an overall category rating. We’re working on an overhaul of the blog so maybe we’ll put that on the list 🙂

      • #3 by Dave on February 4, 2014 - 7:32 pm

        Excellente’ 🙂

  2. #4 by Chrissy on February 4, 2014 - 7:08 pm

    Though I have never eaten there for dinner, I have been to Estia many times for brunch, and I love it

  3. #5 by mike on February 5, 2014 - 2:59 pm

    I have eaten at Estia several times and I think they might microwave some of their food before bringing it out. I think that is what causes that “gunk” you referred to and the rubbery and dry chicken. I don’t have inside knowledge of their kitchen so I could be wrong about this, but their food has that characteristic microwave texture to it (ie rubbery proteins and mushy everything else). They are really good about the celiac thing so I keep going back despite that little issue with the food. It’s nice to go somewhere where ordering GF is easy.

    • #6 by glutenfree4hfx on February 5, 2014 - 5:34 pm

      That explains a lot! I loved their selection too but was so disappointed with the quality, especially at the prices they charge. 😦

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