Monday, August 13, 2012

Opa! Mezze Grill, Ashburn

Jealousy. Yep. Jealousy. Vice or virtue, I cannot say, but I had it last week as Amanda and Dimitri were posting to Facebook from Opa! Mezze Grill in Ashburn. Ann took the beast by the horns this weekend and insisted that we trek in to Ashburn to check it out. The restaurant has very good reviews on the internet and deservedly so. The owners are a hard working family putting out honest food at reasonable prices.

On the drive in from Winchester to Ashburn, I noticed something I hadn't seen before. Even though it is only mid-August, already the sumacs and some of the dogwoods are changing color to a vibrant red and a deep purple respectively. Fall is on the way, inexorably, as ever. Good or bad depends on your worldview I suppose, but for me, right now, I have done quite enough sweating in our brutal hell hole of a restaurant kitchen and am looking forward to more amenable temperatures and humidity. And a good bottle of red while rocking a pullover sitting out on the back patio with my best girl!

Kotsifali: a New Grape for Us
The big camera's battery crapped out so Ann shot these on her phone. First up, what to drink? Not much of a selection: we got a choice of two bottles, one a Greek Merlot and the other this Kotsifali from Lyrakakis of Crete. I don't believe I've ever had either a wine from Crete or Kotsifali before. It's a pleasant enough medium-bodied red that most people would like.

We started with some mezze: grilled octopus, saganaki, and a trio of dips: taramosalata, melitzanosalata, and tyrokafteri, a feta and jalapeno dip. Stars: grilled octopus and the taramosalata, both awesome! I could have bathed in both of them and the ladolemono sauce on the octopus was perfect for dipping the pita.

The eggplant salad was heavy-handed with garlic (thank you!!) to keep the haters away, but was desperately seeking salt, as was the tyrokafteri. I was expecting the tyrokafteri to be the most interesting of the mezze; it was the least. Good, but needed a flavor injection.

Opa! Gyro
After this, we ordered a pork gyro and zucchini fritters. It seems that everyone on the web is raving about the gyro. It was good, but I'm not going to rave about it. You see that it has fries in it. They're good fries, but I'd rather have them on the side, which I will ask for next time. On a scale from meh to bravo, this gyro was right in the middle. The meat was very tasty, but a bit dried out.

I ordered the zucchini fritters because I wanted to compare them to our squash cakes at the restaurant. They were flavored just about like ours and were delicious, not to mention screaming hot right out of the fryer. The accompanying tzatziki was made from a good quality yogurt, but not much else. I wanted more flavor from it, a little red wine, a touch of oregano, and a hint of garlic.

Selection of Dips

Bottom line: solid, honest food, at reasonable prices. There is no reason why we won't be back and if we lived closer, we'd be more frequent guests.

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