Review: Costas Taverna Greek Restaurant

KATE FRASER
Last updated 13:56 02/07/2014
Costas Taverna Greek Restaurant
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ

SPACIOUS: Costas is part of the restaurant lineup at 478 Cranford St.

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What does Costas taverna say to you? Dancing like Zorba? Singing like Nana (Mouskouri not Grandma)? Smashing plates like a good-time Charlie? Mmm. Time to move on perhaps. Those leaps of exuberance are so 1980s.

Costas Taverna - or its more formal title, Greek Restaurant and Ouzo Bar - in Cranford St, Redwood, is more about generous hospitality and a good meal than a stage for patrons to show off singing/dancing skills. For that we must be thankful.

The ambience of Costas nods to its Greek heritage and the menu offers many traditional Greek dishes but the overwhelming impression from entrance to departure is the excellence of the service. Swift, pleasant, sure and knowledgeable.

A drink before we order? Maybe we would like to try a Claylaur sauvignon blanc as it is new to the wine list? Well, just this once, as it was chilled well past allowing any flavour and aroma notes to be noticed.

The menu fold-out is well- creased, indicating not only a popular place, but an unchanging list of dishes. And so it proved to be, but it is equally clear the choice is wide and varied and, it is obvious what Costas regulars want. In these times of pop- up cafe and bars there has emerged a diner/drinker that does not relish change, does not want a menu written to confuse rather then enlighten, does not want culinary conundrums.

It is good news then to find a calamari entree that pleases and if the dish doesn't vary from season to season - great. No surprise chillies or limes instead of lemons. Just sweet tender squid, nicely scored and curled with a delicate but definitely crispy finish. So good.

The fish of the day or fisherman's catch as Costas has it certainly varies but I doubt there is a fillet of white fish that would not respond to the restaurant's method of pan-frying and serving with a gentle lemon sauce and crushed potatoes.

Costas has dealt well with those frequently aired criticisms: "The servings are too small'. Or (heard equally as often) "far to much on the plate for me." The choice here is yours: regular or grand. And should you require a dairy-free or gluten-free meal, well-marked options dot the menus.

It is menu plural as the fold-out board encompasses starters and snacks with meze and dips and other Mediterranean selections from dolmades to hummus. There is a grill section, a salad and protein section, a children's menu that looks not only wholesome but affordable - and not one but two dessert menus. We chose a pleasant lemonato chicken (regular) and lamb salata - though that dish would have been better ordered on a summer not a wintery evening.

Courgettes in June seem a contrary option but as the listing includes the all-embracing term Mediterranean vegetables, I should not have expected Canterbury roasties.

And the two dessert options?

A smart move here: a mini dessert selection picked from the main offering. Hence, a tiny chocolate mousse inside a chocolate shell - the mini Olympus mousse. As pretty and perky as its big sister only smaller.

And as a finale to a pleasant evening: a handwritten note on the bill - "It was a pleasure serving you this evening, thanks Steph."

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Costas Taverna Greek Restaurant and Ouzo Bar

Where: 478 Cranford St, Redwood. When: Seven days from 5pm

Costs: Chakana syrah $8 a glass, Claylaur sav $9 a glass. Calamari entree $14.99. Lemonata chicken regular $23.50; chargrilled lamb salata $23.50; fisherman's catch $27.99. Mini dessert $3.99

Upside: service and selections

Downside: lacking seasonal changes

Go again: Yes, must explore that ouzo selection

- The Press

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