Home > Restaurants > Plaka Estiatorio-4/14/11

Plaka Estiatorio-4/14/11


Location: 5407 20th Ave NW



Tues-Fri: 11:30-3

Sat: 12-4


Tues-Thurs: 5-9

Fri: 5-10

Sat: 4-10

Sun: 4-9

The first date J and I had was on January 14. Best first date ever. A few months after that, we started a tradition of going out for a nice meal on the 14th of every month. This is a chance for us to celebrate that great first date and try new and interesting restaurants at the same time.

To celebrate the 14th, we chose the nice Greek restaurant in Ballard, Plaka Estiatario. Tucked just off Market Street, the exterior looks like any Ballard restaurant, big windows and rather plain on the outside. When you walk inside, you are transported to the Greek Isles. Wide open with rustic wood tables, cream painted walls covered with family photos. The open kitchen lines one wall with a small bar at which one can watch the food being prepared. After spending some time there and especially after trying the food, I wouldn’t have been surprised to look out the window to see colorful Greek boats bobbing along a cove of startlingly blue water. Plaka Estiatario feels authentically Greek without the kitchiness of other Greek restaurants (Costa Opa in Fremont comes readily to mind).

The Service:

Our server was extremely friendly, quick and helpful. He explained the various menus available, the main menu, the menu of specials for that day and the Seattle Restaurant Week menu that was going on for a limited time. The bus boy was also friendly, stopping to talk with us about how good our choices were and what else was good on the menu.

The Drinks:

I ordered the Rapsani Tsantali, a red wine, which was smooth and velvety. J chose the Tsantali Blanc, a white wine, which was, as he put it,  “very good indeed”.

The Food:

We started with the choice of three Voutes (dips), large spoonfuls of Revithosalata or Humus, Roasted Red Pepper and Feta and Melitzanosalata (roasted eggplant, tomatoes and onions). The humus was creamy with just a hint of olive oil. J says it was some of the best humus he’s had in a restaurant. The pepper and feta dip was amazing with a perfect balance of roasted pepper flavor and salty feta. The melitzanosalata turned out to be a great vegetable compliment to the creaminess of the other two dips. We were also served a couple of pieces of a softer, almost cake-like pita they called “angel pita” and a small bowl of inky black Greek olives.

For an entrée, J ordered the Yiouvetsi, a clay ramekin of baked hilopites (egg noodle pasta like orzo) with lamb and a side of greek vegetables. When the dish came out, the top was just the hilopites pasta with small chunks of feta sprinkled on top. J took the first bite, which encompassed all the layers and found the bottom layer was just lamb. Juicy, moist lamb chunks that he says was the best he’s had in any Greek restaurant in Seattle.

I decided to try Plaka Estiatario’s Seattle Restaurant Week menu, a three course price fixe meal. My first course was Avgolemono, a traditional egg and lemon soup with chicken and rice. Delicious. Creamy with the perfect mix of lemon to egg to chicken. Unlike many avgolemono soup I have tried, this one was not bright, fake yellow color, rather a pale, creamy yellow.

My main dish choice was the Kokinisto, braised lamb shank with square shaped hilopites pasta and mixed vegetables. This was probably the most dramatic looking dish I’ve ever had. The lamb shank was left on the bone so it looked like a gigantic, prehistoric leg surrounded by noodles, tomatoes and onions. The pasta was creamy. The tomatoes and onions had a lovely Mediterranean flavor I can only describe as lemony with hints of oregano and thyme. Once I sliced the lamb off the shank, I found the meat moist, flavorful with just a hint of gaminess. The only issue with this fabulous entrée was that, in spots, it seemed a little salty but his may have just been lamb shank juice run-off mixing with the pasta.

For my dessert course, I ordered the Diples, a sheet of dough rolled up, lightly fried and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and walnuts and drizzled with Greek honey. While I wish they had spread the cinnamon sugar over the dough before rolling up it up so it ran through out the huge, rolled up dessert, the honey seeped through, giving what could’ve been plain dough a light, sweet flavor.

J, feeling jealous of my dessert course, ordered Baklava. What came out was the biggest, thickest piece of baklava I’ve ever seen. It could have easily served two or three people. We were told that they use a mix of 5 different nuts in their baklava rather than the usual one or two. Even through it was huge, J ate nearly all of it because it was so good.

The Price:

Rapsani Tsantali: 9.00

Blanc Tsantali: 7.00

Voutes (dips): 3 for 10.00

Yiouvetsi: 18.00

Baklava: 8.00

Three Course Menu: 28.00

The Verdict:

Dinner was a little pricy but considering the quantity and the quality, I’m sure we’ll go back. The portions were so big that we took home enough leftovers to have a full dinner, for both of us, the next night and it tasted just as good. This is some of the best Greek food I’ve had not only in Ballard but also in Seattle.

We’re planning to return at some point for lunch, since their lunch menu, which I’ve tried, is just as good and cheaper. Their gyros are huge, flavorful and made with really fresh ingredients. The Greek salad is huge and delicious.

We will not be surprised, at all, if Plaka Estiatario turns out to be in our top 5 Ballard Restaurants at the end of this project. The authentic, fresh flavors mixed with the lovely atmosphere and friendly staff makes this a restaurant we will happily suggest our friends and family try. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.


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