Do we need to mention it again? Greek cuisine is much more than the caricature offered by too many restaurants, theatrically decorated but very poor in the plate ... Rich with exceptional products and a fabulous tradition, the cuisine of the Hellenes has fortunately seen, in recent years, the opening of much better embassies.
The Ouzerie on the chaussée d'Ixelles holds high the banner of a top level Greek cuisine and this, thanks to the talent and commendable efforts of Georges Tsigkalidis. Originally from Thrace in northern Greece, not far from the Turkish border, our man is active since his tender youth in the restaurant field. He even did his military service as a cook in the Greek Navy ! An excellent school when one learns that Greece has always entrusted its naval units with a cultural and gourmet role. Those very same units are indeed renown for the quality of their receptions.
After this episode, Georges had become acquainted with our country during a brief stay in 1987, but it is in 1992 that he landed here. In 1999, he became acquainted with Stefanos Svanias by means of the inevitable Thomas Tsanis, from the Canette company, which imports in our country the best that Greece has to offer in wines and food products. A beautiful collaboration was about to start and, a few years later, Georges found the occasion to take over the Ouzerie Mezedopolio on the chaussée d'Ixelles. He became its owner in 2007.
And the least that we can say is that we can always eat exceptionally well in this small temple dedicated to the most delicious food that Greece can offer. Georges continues the process initiated by Stefanos and has furthermore added his personal touch to a series of exquisite recipes.
In cold mezes, essential classics of course found, such as the perfect "tzatziki" flavoured just right, or the delicious "tarama" which in this case, naturally, is not pink "fluo" but a very natural white-beige, free of all dyes. Less common, but equally delicious, the famous "dakos" from Crete (dried and soaked bread, raised with goat cheese and tomatoes) or yet the "ktipiti", namely Feta crushed with pimento and olive oil, diabolically spicy !
When it comes to salads, impossible not to fall for the classic peasant salad, or, much more original, for the salad of raw spinach or again for the salad "Catalan", which is in fact a version of the famous traditional "horta", made of steamed mountain green herbs and simply sprinkled with lemon juice and olive oil, a real wealth of health.
Fireworks of flavours
In terms of hot mezes, it is difficult to overlook delights such as the "spanakopita" or the "tyropita" (spinach or cheese pie) or the melting zucchini dumplings or yet the eggplant in the oven. From the sea, we will note the small fried calamari, a far cry from the usual rubbery pieces and, in the same spirit, the grilled octopus, as melting as it is tasty. On the side of meats, alongside the legendary meatballs and kebabs, we will fall under the spell of the "Ouzerie Mezedopolio specialty", namely a remarkable veal pie, very spicy and enhanced with honey and pine nuts, combining both crisp and soft as well as salty and sweet in a real fireworks of flavours.
Finally, when it is time to get to dessert, you will be spoiled by the wide choice of traditional specialities, such as "baklava" or "kadaïf" or the halvas from the house which consists of a surprising semolina cake.
In your glasses, next to the Ouzo of course – offered here in three brands and, either by the glass or 20cl jugs - we can find a good selection of Greek wines from all regions selected by the Canette house mentioned earlier and all of them offered at great prices.
In an elegant and friendly setting, without distasteful folkloric decorations, Georges Tsigkalidis invites you to a genuine rediscovery of the gourmet delights of Greece.
With, starting in the month of January, the possibility of also enjoying the premises for lunch, since Georges has decided to also accommodate clients at lunchtime.