ODEON (257 Queen West, at McCaul, 416-593-7272) Complete meals for $20 per person ($15 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and a domestic lager. Average main $12/$8. Open Sunday to Thursday 11 am to midnight, Friday and Saturday to 3 am. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
A help wanted notice in a restaurant's front window is never a good sign, especially if it's only been open a few weeks. That - and another announcing Authentic Greek Cuisine - is what greets this first-timer at Odeon, a Danforth-style taverna that's bringing souvlaki to downtown's hippest strip.
Occupying the narrow storefront that was once home to Dinah Koo's Tiger Lily, Odeon has a couple of things going for it from the get-go, including a non-stop passing parade of potential customers and late weekend hours that are sure to appeal to the hungry club kids who noisily swarm the nabe every Friday and Saturday night.
Odeon's lamb ($12.95) is a real meal deal, four on-the-bone medium-rare chops sided with waxy boiled potato, plain rice and stir-fried veggies. They also come with an oil-slick-streaked bowl of vegetable soup, terrific grilled garlic bread and a sizable Caesar salad ($4.49 small/à la carte) loaded with artificial bac-o-bits and microscopic croutons.
Avoid the mostly iceberg Greek salad ($3.99); the Village Salad ($5.49) has all the same good stuff - black olives, feta, tomato, cucumber - minus all that unnecessary lettuce.
Except for a first-rate starter of thickened tzatziki, forget the rest of the first courses - an oddly sour taramosolata and bland hummus, both over-processed (all $3.50 lunch/$3.95 dinner) and accompanied by cheap supermarket pita (79 cents).
Servers are still learning the ropes, too. At both visits, no one seemed to know how to operate the computerized cash register, and the CD player sometimes ground to a halt, though listening to the exhaust system overhead is preferable to the Backstreet Boys' latest comeback release.
Might we suggest a more appropriate Nana Mouskouri's Greatest Hits or the soundtrack to My Big Fat Greek Wedding?