Neighbourhood: St Boniface
Address: 241 St Mary’s Rd
Birthed from an ancient culture, Greek cuisine represents thousands of years of tradition. Flavours and ingredients from surrounding areas of Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East have also influenced the Mediterranean palate. Drawing on this rich heritage, Helios Restaurant proudly serves classic dishes with some modern updates.
The charming Norwood-area spot, named after the Greek god of the sun Helios, has a warm atmosphere that begins with happy folk music upon entering.
Tried-and-true dishes are a can’t-miss proposition here. Souvlaki made with pork tenderloin is a generous skewer served with Greek salad. Classic moussaka combines layers of eggplant, potatoes and seasoned ground beef under a luscious béchamel sauce. Heady spices take this traditional dish up a notch—the blend is top secret, but we may detect a hint of cloves.
Greek salad is another time-tested favourite. Served as a dinner entree, the artfully arranged plate features a fresh medley of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and green peppers. Feta, pickled capers and Kalamata olives provide a salty fermented bite, while olive oil adds herbacious flavour. Beef and lamb gyros are slathered with garlicky tzatziki and tucked into a warm pita stuffed with onions and tomatoes.
Other classic dishes may be less familiar to North American diners. Yemista, bell pepper stuffed with Helios’ signature seasoned ground beef and rice, again reveals a whiff of aromatic cloves.
Hallmark ingredients of the cuisine combine in Chicken à la Grecque, a duo of marinated breasts, stone baked for a slightly crisp exterior, then topped with spinach and feta. The simply grilled lamb chops are kissed with oregano and accompanied with a mix of chargrilled bell peppers.
While pasta is often seen as Italy’s domain, lore has it that ancient Greeks cooked with a grilled batter called ‘lagunum’ (possibly a precursor to lasagna). Helios’ menu sports a modern version with marinara—sweetly flavoured with tomatoes and onions—or meat sauce and a tumble of mafalda, which are like small lasagna noodles.
The key to well-executed classics is knowing when not to tamper with perfection. Ending with a slab of
baklava, a combination of golden phyllo, walnuts and cinnamon, served warm and topped with a generous honey drizzle, is proof enough of that.