First Look: Kritamos, a Greek fish house on the Danforth
House-made baklava, $5 (Images: Ben Goloff)
Restaurateurs Brian Li and Kypros Soteriou think that Greek cuisine gets a bad rap. “People think Greek food is just gyros and souvlaki,” says Li. “We want to change that impression.” With the hope of getting Torontonians excited about contemporary Hellenic fare, the duo recently opened a 65-seat seafood-focused restaurant, Kritamos, on the Danforth.
Passion for food is readily apparent in the pair, who met somewhat serendipitously at a Starbucks last January. What started as a casual conversation between two strangers about the evolution and history of Greek cuisine (with Soteriou extolling its virtues) turned into a 12-hour long planning session that ended — after many, many espressos — in the decision to open a restaurant together.
Both Li and Soteriou are industry vets, but Soteriou is commanding the kitchen. The Cypriot has over 30 years of experience, including a stint helming the kitchen at The Fishing Admiral in St. John’s. He comes back to Toronto (he lived here previously) via Miami, where he was exec at the award-winning Mandolin Aegean Bistro.
Chef Soteriou lights up with pleasure as he explains the restaurant’s namesake, kritamos (sea asparagus). He uses kritamos in a dip, which is available with other spread options ($3 each) including tarama, spinach-fava, tomato-walnut and roasted eggplant.
At the front of the bijou room is a tank of live lobsters, mussels and clams, as well as the day’s seafood selection on ice (flown in daily). An entire page of the menu is taken up by the day’s fresh catch (which, of course, changes day-to-day). On one visit, kefalograviera cheese-and-spinach stuffed cherry stone clams ($12) were on offer, as well as pan-fried red mullet ($17) served in the traditional style with virgin olive oil and lemon. Grilled options included sea bass, extra-large Mediterranean black-striped bass and sea bream, among other fish.
Li and Soteriou even imported a special rotisserie from Greece, which they plan to pack with everything from Cornish hen to leg of lamb to pork.
“I don’t think we’ll do chicken; it’s boring,” jokes Soteriou.
A brunch menu is also in the works. Soteriou is playing with different types of eggs (quail, duck and goose), and he is adamant that they will not be serving pancakes.
Kritamos Greek Fish House and Rotisserie, 443 Danforth Ave., 416-466-2822