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Monday, 22 August 2011

The Oil Lamp - Get Me To The Greek

What fond memories I have of Greek food in Toronto. My friend Joanna boasted Greek heritage and her mother's culinary chops were the proof in the proverbial pudding. She created spanakopita that I wistfully wished for years after leaving the Golden Horseshoe and moving west. I've been here for five years now and, up until very recently, ate Greek food only once (and that was at Yianni's on Whyte). I couldn't shake the memories of Joanna's mother's cooking and was content (or resigned) to rely on memories rather than dine out on something that was a pale comparison.

Sun, shadows and greenery in Oil Lamp's dining room

My work with Vue Weekly took me to The Oil Lamp, a quirky brick building downtown that sports a colourful mural of magpies (and one of Liane Faulder's favourite hole-in-the-wall eateries). I interviewed co-owner Aliki and left with a container of spanakopita. One bite and memories of a bright Ontario autumn evening rushed back, replete with cartoon-red maple trees and white-washed clouds. I meant to return the next week for another meal, but a week turned into a month. Time has a devious propensity for such behaviour.

Get me to the Greek. Quickly!

I returned at last and tucked into chicken souvlaki with Greek salad, lemon roasted potato and toasted pita bread. Each cube of chicken popped with juices and crooned with oregano, lemon and black pepper. The generous salad sported a tumble of feta, tomatoes, olives, cukes and lettuce - easily a meal on its own. The ambiance accentuates the meal; eponymous oil lanterns, abundant greenery and antique wooden floors and ceiling lend a classy air.

I've since lost touch with Joanna, an unfortunate outcome of many long-distance friendships. I hope, if she reads this at some point, life is treating her well. It took me a long time to find Greek food in Edmonton that matched her mother's. At least now I will not be lacking for good spanakopita or souvlaki.

Oil Lamp on Urbanspoon

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