Get Your 'Opa!" on at Psistaria Greek Taverna

The excellent food and service are worth the short trip to Lincolnwood.

Skokie has excellent Greek diners, but for Greek fine dining you’ll want to head next door to Lincolnwood’s Psistaria Greek Taverna. The restaurant offers superb service and a menu featuring huge portions of great food.

Located at 4711 W. Touhy Ave., Psistaria Greek Taverna’s décor is a celebration of Greece. The space is painted white and decorated with false columns reminiscent of the nation’s ancient architecture. Walls are lined with photos of Greece, and an arch in the back features a painting that makes it look like you’re looking out a window onto a sunny Grecian landscape. Since you’re still actually in the Midwest, a fireplace provides a cozy place to eat on a winter night.

A bar area in front features a large dark wood bar and a TV tuned to sports. The rest of the restaurant is set with white tablecloth-covered tables in all sizes; the restaurant suits small groups fine, but can handle huge gatherings too. It was fairly quiet when we got there around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, but picked up while we ate, bringing in everyone from small groups of seniors to families with young children.

Our server was very friendly and attentive throughout our dinner. I asked about beer and he listed off all the American standards, but recommended I try the Greek beer Hillas. I ordered that, while my fiancé went with Hoffbrau, a light German beer. The Hillas was quite good. Reminiscent of Italy’s Peroni, its smooth flavor made a great pairing with the light Greek fare.

We started with saganaki ($5.95). Our server brought out the traditional dish of imported cheese, poured ouzo over it and shouted “Opa” as he lit it on fire. The taste was as good as the presentation, with the cheese crisp on the outside and warm and melted inside.

Our entrees both came with soup. My fiancé went with the soup of the day, an excellent version of cream of broccoli made with plenty of the pureed vegetable. I opted for avgolemono, a rice soup with a broth made from eggs and lemon. It wasn’t like anything I’ve had before, very creamy but with the citrus taste keeping the flavor light.

For dinner with both went with our server’s recommendations, ordering the baked lamb with orzo ($15.95) and whole sea bass ($22.95) off the day’s specials menu. We were both very pleased with the recommendations. The huge leg of lamb is served covered in the tiny pasta and a light tomato based sauce. The meat was packed with flavor and so tender it could be eaten with only a fork.

Our server carefully filleted the sea bass, cutting it into pieces as he removed all the bones, and then covering it with a light lemon-based sauce. The sauce worked perfect with the mellow white fish, which is served with crisp broccoli and a choice of sides. My fiancé went with the green beans and Greek potato, which were all very tasty, with the beans sautéed in a tomato sauce that also blended well with the boiled potato.

Both entrees were so large we brought home significant portions as leftovers to leave a little room for dessert. Our server tempted us with a tray of the restaurant’s sweets, explaining each one since they ranged well beyond the standards like baklava and rice pudding. We tried his favorite, a walnut cake ($3.95). My fiancé isn’t a big walnut fan, but after trying it, he agreed that it was a perfect finish. The taste of nut isn’t particularly prominent, just making for a very moist, light cake that tastes wonderful in the sauce of honey and cinnamon it’s served with. Psistaria Greek Taverna was everything I wanted out of a nice dinner out, giving me the opportunity to try new things while savoring old favorites.

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