This is #DishingIt – another newly established series on STYLE that gives you the inside scoop on what’s new and downright finger lickin’ good in Canada’s culinary scene. As tricky as it can be to achieve, we like to believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet is all about balance. And though we like to top you up with tips and tricks that’ll help you achieve optimal wellness, we love sharing about one of our favourite hobbies: eating all the things. If you like trying different cuisines and discovering the next best hole in the wall as much as we do, than let’s get to talkin’. Oh, and make sure to dish your dining suggestions right back to us in the comments.
Bar Koukla is owner Thanos Tripi‘s third culinary endeavour after opening Ossington hot spot Mamakas Taverna in 2014 and Trinity Bellwood’s grab-n-go cafe, Agora, in 2018. All three of Tripi’s restaurants offer classic Greek dishes and bar snacks against fresh contemporary backdrops. And since Mamakas and Agora already captured our feta-loving hearts with dishes like homemade spanakopita and flaming cheese saganaki, we had to find out whether or not Bar Koukla lives up to its family name.
The vibe: Upon walking into Bar Koukla, the attention given to design is evident. Nautical rope knots and wicker chairs give a nod to the waterscapes of Greece, and the bar takes centre stage. The room hums with a lively buzz but is still comfortable enough for you and your Valentine to enjoy a meal in.
The service: We were fortunate enough to have Koukla’s bar manager, Scott Langley, wait on us and recommend all the right food and drink pairings. He was extremely knowledgable about the Greek spirits and ingredients he uses in his house cocktails, and each drink he whipped up complimented the dishes we enjoyed, thoroughly. If you’re lucky to score a seat at the bar, know that Langley will steer you in the right direction when it comes time to order.
The food: Bar Koukla’s menu is comprised of snack-size meze and several different sharing plates inspired by traditional Athenian mezedopoleío. We walked in with an appetite for a full dinner, though six different dishes more than satisfied our seemingly bottomless stomachs. The lamb ribs, souvlaki and zucchini chips are must tries.
The drinks: We walked into Bar Koukla thinking that we’d share a bottle of wine, especially with the selection of biodynamic Greek bottles that sommelier Crystal Robitaille had on hand. However, the Aegean Spritz (pictured below), Tzatziki (not the sauce), and the Katsiki Fizz (yes to goat milk!) went down so, so well.
Before you make your Valentine’s Day reservation at Bar Koukla, review the details of their set menu below.
Cost: $45 plus tax and wine pairings (CAD)
Seatings: 5:30, 6:30, 9:00, and 9:30 p.m.
First course: Half a dozen oysters
Second course: Octapodia – Pickled octopus, celery, red onion, and green pepper
Third course: Patzaria Salata – Roasted beets, feta, and pistachio
Fourth course: Midia – Salt spring mussels, gigantes, and tomato
Fifth course: Vodino – Grilled beef striploin, graviera, and mousto
Sixth course: Créme caramel flan