Sunday, July 20, 2014

Opa Review

Earlier this year, Opa celebrated it's third year as one of the premier Greek restaurants in the Midtown Village area. That's no small feat considering the normal lifespan of a restaurant in any big city. So in celebration, they offered a $3 menu for a variety of items on their menu. Natch, the GF, a friend, and I had to stop by.


Opa offers a sleek, modern space, with a bar at its center. Comfortable seating can be had while you enjoy your meal - no small feat considering many of the restaurants on 13th street cram you in - at least the ones not owned by Stephen Starr.


Antho [$3 / $10]
Cucumber vodka, lemon, dill 


We all started our night off with the Antho - what a steal at $3 - so we had a few! The sweet essence of lemonade, refreshing cucumber, and the herbaceous punch from the dill offered a nice counterbalance to any vodka.

Greekified Fries [$3]
House-cut oregano fries, long hot peppers, onions, cheese sauce


The Greek fries were a bit limp, but the toppings were great. Typical of most Greek fries, oregano was speckled throughout and the long hots provided some punch. The fried onions offered some texture, but the real star was that cheese sauce. Almost like a romesco, the sauce was packed with flavor.

Spinach Croquettes [$3 / $8]
Smoky feta cheese dip


The spinach croquettes were crisp on the outside and the inside reminded me of spinach gnocchi in its texture and essence. The smoky feta cheese dip provided a salty counterpoint to each bite. 


One order wasn't enough to satiate us so of course, we had to get another.

Bifteki Sliders [$3]
Feta-stuffed local grass fed beef, tomato, onion, cucumber relish 


The burger was well-seasoned and moist. The relish added some additional texture and Greek flavor to each bite.

Keftedes [$3 / $10]
Herbed veal meatballs, ouzo-tomato sauce


The keftedes were juicy and hearty. You could get the faint hint of licorice from the ouzo within the marinara, but it was not overpowering.

Horiatiki Side Salad [$3 / $9]
Tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, shaved red onions, feta
  

The Greek salad provided all the elements that are typically associated with it - salty Kalamatas and feta, the bite of the red onion, and the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. The bonus addition of green peppers added extra crunch to the dish as well.

Skewers [$3]
Pork tenderloin, lemon-marinated chicken, seasonal vegetables


The skewers offered a trio of different tastes. The chicken was well-charred and moist and the veggies had good grill flavor. The pork was decent, but a tad dry. Regardless, we got two orders of these as well.

Brussels Sprouts [$9]
Braised brussels sprouts, house cured and smoked pork belly, leeks, sweet potatoes, honey


Noticing that the regular menu had a dish with pork belly, naturally, I had to get these brussels sprouts. The pork belly wasn't abundant, but crisp and nicely fatty. The brussels sprouts had a subtly sweet glaze, with the leaves crisped slightly. The sweet potatoes were accented by the draping of honey, creating a somewhat sweet dish balanced by the heartiness of the pork.

Saganaki [$9]
Seared Kaseri, metaxa


And if you're at a Greek joint, you know you need to get the Saganaki. Unfortunately here, they don't flambe the kaseri tableside, but regardless, the flavor is all there, along with some grilled pita. The cheese was soaked in Metaxa, a blend of wines including Muscat, rose petals, and Mediterranean herbs, creating a somewhat floral note to each bite.

Grilled Octopus [$14]
4 hour braise, smoked chickpeas, red peppers, spinach, potatoes, roasted garlic vinaigrette

 
I was also in the mood for some octopus, so ordered this a la carte as well. It was tender from the braise and meaty, with the garlic vinaigrette being punched up with lemon. The potato salad that accompanied the octopus was reminiscent of others I've had at Greek restaurants. The red peppers, smoked chickpeas, potatoes, and spinach were well-dressed.

Baklava [$3 / $8]
Layered phyllo, walnuts, honey, fig ice cream


And who can say no to some baklava to close out the meal. So essentially, we ordered the entire $3 anniversary menu, and then some. As expected the baklava was sweet, flaky, and crisp, with the pistachio providing texture and nuttiness. The scoop of fig ice cream was a nice touch.


I don't know why it's taken us this long to check out Opa, but I'm glad we finally did. Service was exceptional and plates were constantly cleared. Philly does Greek cuisine justice in the form of Estia, but Opa does it just as much justice and in an even livelier way. 


In fact, with the check, the manager stopped by with three shots of ouzo, compliments of the house. Typically an apertif, this was a welcome digestif as well. Opa!

Opa 
1311 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 545-0170
www.opaphiladelphia.com