Tag Archives: wine

Going Greek at Emilitsa in Portland

23 Oct

I have a small obsession with Greek food. Not that I have eaten a lot of “authentic” Greek food, but I keep dreaming of the moment when I will be sitting in a café in Mykonos enjoying it. So, even when I am stuffing a faux gyro in my mouth I imagine that it’s real, and that makes me feel better inside. Alas, it’s not real and it never has been…BUT with that being said, my number one dining partner and I decided to have a date night at Portland’s local Greek restaurant, Emilitsa, because I needed to eat and dream of an island hugging the Aegean Sea where I might one day sit eating my truly authentic Greek food.

We walked into a bright restaurant that was bustling with life at 8:30 on Friday night. The modern décor is simple and clean with exposed brick walls that make it feel like you are snuggled into a West Village restaurant in New York. The bar was packed and there wasn’t an open table in the place, so we were thankful that we had sprung for reservations. We were very promptly seated and handed a drink menu. Their drink menu is fantastic and only features Greek wines and a nice selection of Greek and local beers. The waiter was kind enough to explain the wines so we could order something to our liking (me similar to Pinot Noir, Mark similar to Cabernet).

I ended up with the Boutari, which was very full-bodied and spicy. I loved it. Mark ended up with the Harlaftis. It was, indeed, a Cabernet I found upon investigation. It was subtly rich and extremely pleasing. I would recommend both if you also enjoys Pinots and Cabs.

After whetting our appetites with a bit of alcohol we were ready for some serious mezethakia (appetizers). We were sent some complimentary hummus from the kitchen, but we knew we’d need more to experience all Emilitsa had to offer. Never ones to shy away from anything scallop, we went for the Htenia me Ouzo. Large sea scallops were wading in a light ouzo-tomato cream with dodoni feta. It was, in one word, incendiary. I dream about scallops like those. The ouzo cream sauce was otherworldly. I couldn’t believe the symphony of flavors that was playing in my mouth.

Homemade Garlic and Onion Hummus with Crostini

Htenia me Ouzo

The other mezethakia we decided we couldn’t live without was the Kefalograviera me Syka Saganaki, pan fried sheep’s milk kefalograviera (a hard, salty cheese) with baby Turkish balsamic peppered figs. The cheese was earthy and delicious, while the figs added the sweetness needed to balance out the intense flavors and saltiness of the cheese. Overall, very solid and I would have it again in a heartbeat.

Kefalograviera me Syka Saganaki

The wine was pumping through our veins now and we were well on our way to calling this our favorite restaurant in Portland, but we still had to get through the main course. We both decided Greek Comfort food was the way to go. I can never turn down lamb in any form and I had never, ever, had lamb’s neck before so ordering the Lemo Arnou was a no brainer for me. This dish was an all-natural grass-fed lamb neck, slow braised in a mastic yogurt honey sauce and then served with olive oil pomme puree and fire roasted florina peppers. It was perfectly fresh and definitely heavy. I loved the subtle gaminess of the lamb paired with the light sauce and pomme puree. I would go back a hundred more times to eat that dish again. Perfection.

Lemo Arnou

Mark is obsessed with Emilitsa’s Moussaka, and really, who could blame him? It’s the best I have ever had. Beautiful layers of organic oven roasted eggplant baked with a ground beef mixture and then topped with a Greek yogurt béchamel sauce. I must say, even I have been dreaming of and craving this dish since we went. The béchamel is so light and delicate, but certainly not lacking in flavor. It adds the subtle creaminess to the dish that I have never experienced with Moussaka before. Usually I just think it’s too heavy and creamy. I know Mark wants to go back for this dish sooner than later.


It was a beautiful fall night out at what I will certainly say is my absolute favorite fine-dining restaurant in Portland. The flavors and intense, the wines are rich and the atmosphere is supremely cosmopolitan. We can’t wait to go back and try more things from the menu, or even stick with the ones we know we already love. Greek food has never been nearer or dearer to my heart.

Emilitsa on Urbanspoon


Chocoholics and Alcoholics Unite!

26 Apr

A few nights ago Mark and I were craving something sweet and savory. We had recently heard a rumor that Portland has a Bar of Chocolate, yes that would be a bar dedicated to all things chocolate! Immediately we knew we had to check it out.

Little did we know that this little Wharf Street gem would not only have a case full of amazing homemade desserts, but they also have Absinthe. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the much-loved, made famous in France, neon green liqueur let me tell you–it’s not for the faint of heart! I have had it numerous times, and the overwhelming flavor of anise (black licorice) makes me despise it every single time. Mark, on the other hand, loves it. Since he hadn’t had it in a while he decided he had to have one of the bar’s unique concoctions, which is aptly named ‘Death in the Afternoon.’ So, at our candlelit table Mark proceeded to have a drink that would make anyone buzzed after a single serving: Champagne mixed in equal parts with Absinthe.  A true, liqueur’s quicker glass.

Death in the Afternoon

I decided on something sensible to go with my dessert–an Argentinean Malbec. So, while Mark happily swilled down his beloved green poison, I sipped my wine. Then, our cake was delivered!

Salted Caramel Cake

We decided to go with the salted caramel cake since we had come in craving something sweet and savory. While the cake itself is a bit dry for my taste, the icing and the salted caramel on top clearly makes up for any moistness that the cake is lacking. It’s simply amazing. I find myself craving it once a week…so between there and Red’s Dairy I will weigh 1000 pound by Labor Day.

So, stop in The Bar of Chocolate, by Cinque Terre on Wharf street. It’s great for pre-or-post-dinner drinks and/or dessert!

The Bar of Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

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