In my opinion, Toronto’s best food festival is the “Taste of the Danforth” in Toronto’s Greektown. To be sure, Toronto has other great food festivals. Summerlicious is a great way to sample menus from some of Toronto’s more upscale eateries, and other cultural festivals are always chock-a-block with delicious food stalls, but in my humble opinion the Taste of the Danforth has what all the other festivals lack: quality and variety.
A restaurant which opens its doors during the Taste of the Danforth is Mezes. “Meze” is the Greek word (Mezés or Μεζές) for what is popularly known as tapas or “appetizers”. Went there recently with an open mind and an empty stomach and came out amazed.
Mezes’ decor is classy yet relaxed – one would be as comfortable having a meal there in shorts and a T-shirt as in business casual or more formal attire. The service is similarly informal but efficient. Our waiter was extremely knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour. He made sure we had drinks as soon as we were seated and (following a perfunctory Ouzo shot) he must have picked up on some vibe we were putting out because he was taking our orders as soon as we’d decided what to eat.
The menu at Mezes is vast and includes far more than the usual token tzatziki and hummus platters. The appetizer menu is epic, and a friend of mine suggested ordering an appetizer each and then sharing them all. We ended up splitting the difference, and ordered the Kria Poikilia (an array of popular dips Tzatziki, Taramosalata, Homous, and Melitzanosalata served with pita) and I ended up ordering the (wait for it…) lamb souvlaki. Yes, I know. It’s a bit cliché, but I just had to see how they cooked this classic dish. I was not disappointed.
The lamb was cooked to perfection (medium rare…any more cooked and its a waste of meat); it was succulent, juicy and tasty. The Olympus-sized rice mound that accompanied the dish was also fabulous and fluffy. I have to say the salad was a bit of a let down, but – hey – with everything in front of me I hardly had room to put away a few mouthfuls of greenery.
Mezes’ was a great experience with good food at a very reasonable price. If you do end up going, however, get there early because it’s extremely popular. We had to wait 45 minutes for a table. If you do end up waiting, however, fear not. Mezes is just up the street from a cluster of great stores. I would HIGHLY recommend Mezes if you’re looking for a good time in a friendly, charming restaurant.