Santorini Estiatorio reconnects with Greektown’s ethnic past in Detroit, MI
Restaurant / Food
Santorini Estiatorio reconnects with Monroe Street's ethnic past
There was a time when Monroe Street really did live up to its Greektown history. Then, one by one, the little Greek cafés began disappearing, leaving only a trace of what had been a center of Greek food and culture.
That reversed earlier this month a bitwhen Santorini Estiatorio raised the blue and white flag at the corner of Monroe and Beaubien streets, bringing another Greek restaurant to the array.
The space was formerly Mosaic, which purposefully departed from the theme of the street when it opened in 2007, even though the proprietors themselves are of Greek heritage. Now they've reassessed the direction, choosing to bring back a mostly Greek menu to their reborn spot (although they do serve filet mignon and cowboy steak, as well).
To say you can't miss the place is an understatement, marked as it is by two outsized pieces of classic statuary at the entrance. About that name: Estiatorio is Greek for "restaurant," and Santorini is one of the most beautiful of the Greek islands. The proprietors, Athina and Stella Papas, didn't stop when theychanged the name and the direction; they completely renovated the space, for a softer look meant to invoke the beauty of Greece.
The result is a completely new restaurant, done up in Aegean blue and white, with afresher look and expanses of uncovered windows on two sides (some of which will open onto a patio in the spring).
The ladderback seats at the U-shaped bar reflect the country-style chairs in the adjoining dining room. The outline of the hull of a fishing boat separates dining room and bar, and helps give the large space a cozy feel.
The kitchen is turning out some very nice Greek fare in the early going. A good way to start is with the spread sampler, three small pots of traditional Greek spreads served with toasted pita chips or grilled pita bread. Choices include tzatziki (yogurt mixed with finely chopped cucumber and garlic), tirokafetri (feta cheese with roasted peppers) and skordalia (potato whipped with garlic), and they make a sharable appetizer for two.
Traditional avgolomeno (lemon rice chicken soup) is excellent, and there is always a second soup, perhaps tomato basil. Among the lamb dishes, braised lamb shank sampled on one occasion was notable, with the tender meat easily sliding off the huge bone, although the dish would have been improved with a dollop of the cooking juices. The accompaniment of roasted potatoes and green beans teamed well with the meaty shank. It's one of five entrees that feature lamb, including, of course, marinated lamb chops served in multiples of three ($25) or five ($32). There is also a lamb burger, at both lunch and dinner, served with tzatziki.
Most of the familiar Greek dishes, from the obligatory flaming cheese and sausage to spinach pie, moussaka and pastitsio, both served in individual casseroles, appear. Though the price structure here is very different,it is in line with other upscale downtown restaurants.
Santorini Estiatorio is off to a promising start.
501 Monroe St., Detroit
Call: (313) 962-9366
Rating: 3 stars
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, dinner 4-midnight Sun.-Thurs., 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat.
Prices: Appetizers $6-$12.50, soups and salads $2-$13, burgers and sandwiches $8.50-$10, entrees $10.50-$36, higher for some market-priced items, desserts $3.50-$9.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Parking : Nearby lots, structures or street
Wheelchair access: No barriers