Driving is fun; what is there to not like about it? Sitting on your behind while cranking your favourite tunes with your buddies and high-rolling through the city never fails to give me a rush of exhileration. While some may find the expenses a touch too high for their liking, I think the experience is worth it to some extent. Sure, a road-trip across Greater Vancouver everyday wouldn’t necessarily be something I’d look forward to, but a drive up to Grouse is always a nice little quickie. Of course, there’s always some form of obstacle present in these sorts of exciting activities, and driving is no exception. Personally, while I am essentially a race-car driver with the wheel, I always find parking to be a nuisance; that itch in the middle of your back that you know you’ll have to satisfy but can never quite seem to reach. In my opinion, I find underground parking lots to be the absolute worst. From the tight corners to the random interjections of walls to the godforesaken pillars; everything down there seems to have been put in place to give you a little challenge everytime you roll into their desolate spaces. Unfortunately, this also has a tendency to apply to the small parking spaces available behind smaller businesses in Vancouver: the ones accessible via back alleys and randomly have residential garages opening up into them. On a particular trip to Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna, I was faced with my own personal bed of hot coals. My parking skills are marred by an irrational fear of such challenges, and when I say that…
…I’m not joking. I’ll confess that I’m terrible. In spite of this, I have miraculously never hit another car while parking; it always seems to be inatimate objects that suffer – but more on that later. Luckily, Tofu Horse Girl was skilled enough to depart my vehicle relatively unscathed, and we eventually met up with a couple of friends, ArchieGirl and Kip, for “brunch” at 3pm. #lifeofastudent
Stepho’s is a bit of an institution in the West End. They’re known for the great value on their sizeable dishes, as well as the lengthy line-ups of hungry patrons wanting to get them around meal times. In spite of the fact that it was mid-afternoon, the four of us snagged one of the last few remaining tables in the restaurant; additional groups had to wait after we were seated. Considering the likelihood of nearby businesses being virtually empty during the afternoon lull, this really goes to show the restaurant’s popularity in the neighbourhood.
We started off with a calamari to share. As a Greek restaurant, I had relatively high expectations for this dish, and they were met to some extent. Each bite contained a sizeable piece of springy yet chewy squid. The amount of batter and level of oiliness were, however, slightly on the excessive side, but I don’t know how much I could elucidate on this for a deep-fried dish. It was certainly satisfying.
Pita bread is complimentary and a suitable item for the restaurant. Judging by the food to come, it seems as if Stepho intended to overload all his customers with carbohydrates and leave them feeling bloated, and I, for one, am not complaining about that. The bread was somewhat thick and tasted relatively fresh despite being mass-produced. The exterior certainly had a sort of delicate crispiness while the inside was soft without being overly chewy.
I ordered the roast lamb. Although it may be a bit hard to tell from the photo, this was rather sizeable. Like the majority of their other dishes, it came with a side of rice, Greek salad, potatoes, and vegetables. If that doesn’t sound like enough food, then perhaps a more accurate representation of the dish as a whole would have been more appropriate. The lamb here was cooked well with a tender texture, although some of the meat deeply embedded within the bones was a touch more difficult to extract. In terms of flavour, I do not recall the meat having that signature “gangy” lamb taste, although overall it could have used a bit more of a kick. As for the sides, they were more than complimentary to the slab of meat they adorned. I feel as if the salad contained more cheese than vegetables, which may not be a negative thing if you’re a fan of the dairy product. The vegetables were drowned in a sort of tomato sauce that was not necessarily overbearing but not completely pleasant, either.
Archie Girl ordered the lamb souvlaki. Again, quite a large amount of food, albeit with a smaller stick of meat. This would probably be a more suitable meal for the average person, though. Incidentally, she lives in the area and was the one who suggested we dine here, making her a prime example of the love that locals give to the establishment.
Kip went for the chicken souvlaki. The amont of cheese in that salad is definitely exemplified here.
Tofu Horse Girl opted for the lasagna. A little unconventional compared to our other dishes but definitely a bit smaller in terms of size. I’m not quite sure if this would be any healthier as a result of the reduced portion, though; just look at all that cheese!
The name of my blog may allude to my ability to eat, but it certainly says very little about my rate of consumption. When it comes to dishes like this, I tend to eat quite slowly. In this particular instance, I was the second-slowest eater with the most food who doesn’t believe in doggy-bags or wasting food. “Second slowest-eater?” you say? Tofu Horse Girl, in spite of the animal referenced in her name, is the slowest of the slow. It can be compared to the hydrolysis of ATP in the absence of catalysis; just go for sushi with her sometime to witness her literally picking the rice apart one grain at a time. Luckily, she had something small and contained this time, resulting in me being the rate-limiting step. Thus, we were at the restaurant for about 2 hours as I slowly, but surely, ate it all. I’ll be honest: I don’t know how impressive of a feat that is, but I was full for quite awhile afterwards. In the end, I’m not sure how I’d feel about spending that amount of time in a line-up for Stepho’s. The experience, however, would certainly be worth it in terms of value.
Conclusion: Andy ate a lot.
Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna
1124 Davie St.