Opa! It’s Omega Ouzeri

Opa! It’s Omega Ouzeri

Feast your senses on the subtly exotic temptations of Greece on Cap Hill. Once you step into Omega Ouzeri, you’ll know what I mean. On a warm day, there’s a gentle breeze coming through the open air window. Light from a window reflection floods the dining room. Blue and white décor somehow captures a postcard you’ve seen of Santorini. The hospitality makes it feel like you’re with family rather than on Capitol Hill. On a Thursday summer evening, the dining room is full of people enjoying life. Among them is Omega Ouzeri owner Thomas Soukakos. “Have you ever been to Greece?” Soukakos asks. You’ll be ready to start packing your bags before the entrée even comes out.

Soukakos has been on the Seattle Greek food scene since 1993 but conceptually, Omega features the most modern take on Greek food. With Chef Zoi Antonitsas (previously of Westward) at the helm, it’s no surprise that Omega does modern successfully – without losing the authenticity highlighted on the menu. If you are familiar with Antonitas, it shouldn’t be surprising that she has once again mastered classic, clean Mediterranean flavors with flawless execution and contemporary presentation.

Traditionally, an ouzeri is a type of Greek tavern that serves Ouzo (anise flavored liqueur) and small finger foods that are meant to be shared. My advice: sample everything that Omega Ouzeri has to offer – but if you want to leave fat, happy, and reveling in a half-baked plan to travel to Corfu, my specific recommendations are as follows:

Triada (trio): tzatziki, fava, taramosolata, pita

The trio is a sample of dips that are so far beyond hummous that I’m not sure that I can ever go back. My favorite is the fava. Sweet pea-like favas are whipped into a creamy spread topped with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, lemon, crunchy red onion and salty but mild Ariadne Pure capers. The pita itself is faintly doughy and crisp with a thin coat of – why not – more olive oil. The combination is heaven. Not to be out done, the taramosolata and tzatskiki are decadent. Soukakos favors the taramosolata made with cured roe and bread – the traditional Greek meze is one of chef Antonitas specialties. To learn more and try it yourself, check out this Seattle Times article: Taramasalata — made of fish eggs and old bread — might become your new favorite summer dip.

Kolokithokeftedes (zucchini fritters): graviera, mint, Aleppo aioli

Hot crispy Kolokithokeftedes are typically enjoyed as a meze on Crete. They are fried to complete perfection and full of creamy graviera cheese and zucchini. The graviera gives a slightly sweet flavor amplified by salt and Aleppo pepper ailoli. It arrives garnished with purple and yellow flowers and next to the spring green of a split fritter, fried food has never looked so good. The fritters are a well-loved and commonly requested summer menu item so get them while you can.

Octapodi (grilled octopus): fava Santorini, capers, roasted tomatoes

If you have had octopus that isn’t good then you know what an awful experience it can be. Tender octopus is a delicacy that shouldn’t be missed and if you are going to try it anywhere let it be Omega Ouzeri. The octopus sits on a generous bed of fava plus the Ariadne Pure capers. The salty sweet combination are great with a tender bite of octopus. But the perfect bite has heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh mint, herbs, and plenty of olive oil too. The entire experience will make you swear 14th and E Pike is actually the Ionian Sea.

Lavraki (whole grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass): oregano-grilled lemon dressing. Fisherman’s favorite!

The show stopper at Omega Ouzeri is the sea bass. It’s a sight to see, served whole and ruminating charred lemon with olive oil fresh off the grill. The crispy skin charred with oregano dressing and sprinkled with little purple flowers is tantalizing. You’re dying to dig in as the server expertly de-bones the fillet tableside. When it’s ready, the first bite of melt in your mouth, lemon infused, fresh and mildly flavored fish is unparalleled. As the breeze wafts in through the window you can smell the salt off the Ionian.

Almond Cake & Greek Coffee

Yes, there’s chocolate baklava with walnuts and cocoa stuffed between layers of flakey filo and covered in clove honey; And yeah, there’s saganaki – firm, rich, fried cheese. But the Almond Cake. Moist, perfect, how-am-I-still-eating Almond Cake alongside juicy poached stone fruit. The Greek life is sure good.

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