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A Family affair 

Will Tom's Family Restaurant live up to the legend of Zorba? Liz Feltham revisits an old favourite in a new location.

When Zorba the Greek moved down the highway from Bedford to Sackville to become Tom’s Family Restaurant, it left behind the small, dated white-and-blue dining room and the stigma of being a motel restaurant.

I wonder if they remembered to pack the important stuff: the great food and friendly service that makes you feel like a regular after only one visit. So, I drop by the new digs for supper.

We’re greeted and seated quickly and I size up the room. The interior is large, with plenty of booth seating, and long tables set up in the back of the dining room for big groups. Stainless- steel pendant lighting and light wood give the dining area an updated look without appearing sterile or too modern. I do miss the touches that gave the old place a bit of personality, such as the Greek travel posters on the walls—no such touches here.

The menu has remained largely unchanged, although I notice that the Greek dinner for two, while still only $29.95, now has only three presentations instead of four and has been pared down (MIA are the spanakopita, pastitsio, scordelia and taramasalta). All the major components are there, though, and I’ve no doubt it’s still worth the money.

We’re trying something different tonight though, and decide to start with spanakopita ($5.95) and calamari ($6.95). I love the calamari, with its barely there breading and tender texture although a little citrus would be nice to counteract the smoothness of the tzatziki served with it. It’s simply presented and, with a Greek salad, this portion is enough for a meal. Same goes for the spanakopita, large triangles of spinach and feta wrapped in flaky phyllo dough—delicious.

Entrees are kleftiko ($13.95) and pork souvlaki with pita ($11.95), which both come with Greek salad.

There’s no skimping on quality ingredients here—there’s plenty of salty feta, Kalamata olives and excellent herbed vinaigrette. And this is a true Greek salad, with no lettuce filler, but lots of cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions.

Main courses arrive quickly, a little too quickly since we aren’t quite finished our appetizers, but we make room on the table for all the dishes.

Our server has recommended the pork souvlaki over the chicken, saying the chicken is more tender but the pork has more flavour, and this is true. The pork is chewy, actually a little tough, but not dry at all and certainly full of the promised flavour. I tear off bits of the fried pita bread and use it to make little wraps of pork, tomato, onion and tzatziki.

The colourfully named kleftiko (“bandit’s lamb”) is wrapped in foil and drizzled with a garlic sauce that guarantees no vampires will be visiting tonight. Oven-roasted potatoes and rice round out our plates, but we’re forced to leave quite a bit of starch behind because of the hefty portion sizes.

With food and service this good, it turns out this restaurant does know what to pack for a big move. Our server balances chattiness and bantering with competence and efficiency—not as easy as it sounds and certainly not as effortless for most as our server makes it look.

Sackville Drive is a long, commercial strip with a gazillion fast-food outlets and chain restaurants, and very few really good places where you can enjoy a meal. With the arrival of Tom’s, this has changed.

Tom’s Family Restaurant585 Sackville Drive252-8667Daily 8am-10pm

A gazillion more Liz Feltham reviews online: www.foodcritic.ca

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