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It's All Greek to Me 

Halifax's newest Greek restaurant should be called "It's All Really Good Greek To Me."

The city has a profusion of Greek restaurants, but most are the casual, family-style type (Opa! being the most clearly defined exception to this rule). Now, we have a second, more “grown-up” Greek eatery in the form of It’s All Greek To Me.

No sign of the Nail and the Kneecap remains at its former digs on Quinpool. The new space is a contrast of dark wine racks, bright blue-and-white walls and elegant, linen-clad tables.

Despite the outward formality, there’s a warm welcoming atmosphere which I attribute to the friendly waitstaff, a professional team that has no trouble working the crowded restaurant.

The menu is not overly large but does have a nice variety of the usual suspects. For starters, there are several alifes (dips) to choose from. We skip favourites such as tzatziki and taramasalata and try the kopanisti ($5). A smooth feta and roasted red-pepper dip, the kopanisti is served with pita and is delicious.

Octopus ($12) and loukaniko ($9) are next. The loukaniko, a grilled Greek sausage, is a small plate of sliced spicy meat. I have a confession regarding octopus: It’s one of the few foods I can’t stomach and for the most ridiculous reason---I have an irrational fear that the suckers on the tentacles will stick to the inside of my throat and I’ll choke. Yet, I always order it because it takes great skill to prepare the little cephalopods so that they are tender---not tough---so it’s a good test of the kitchen. All Greek has done a fabulous job: The marinated bits are chewy but not tough, zesty and lemony without bitterness. I almost forget my fear as the taste convinces me to sample more than a couple of pieces.

Next up is the horiatiki ($8), the original Greek salad, with no lettuce. This one has large wedges of ripe tomato, cucumber, slices of red onions and plenty of feta and black olives. Dressed in traditional vinaigrette, this is an excellent version of the salad.

Our main courses are also very traditional Greek offerings: Lamb souvlaki ($16) and moussaka ($14). We have a choice of roasted potatoes or, unusually, home cut fries. The fries are dollar chips (little rippled coin- shaped slices of potato) and are all right, but the more usual roasted potatoes are superior---nicer colour, better flavour.

Non-descript white rice is on the side of both dishes---Greek cuisine is not starch-shy. The two skewers of lamb are marinated, tender and just lovely. The moussaka is not quite as successful as the lamb. Layers of eggplant, mashed potato and meat sauce are covered with bechamel (white) sauce and then baked. Although a hint of cinnamon is detected, this casserole is flat and could use more seasoning, and more time in the oven.

Greek cuisine is also typically explosive with taste---so much lemon, oregano and garlic used throughout the Greek menu, with no holding back. Desserts are no exception and we’re having baklava ($6) and galaktoboureko ($5), the sweetest of the sweets.

Large golden filo triangles, one filled with almonds and walnuts, the latter with a thick custard, are covered with supersweet honey syrup and are teeth-rottingly good.

It’s All Greek To Me is more like It’s Really Good Greek (except the moussaka) To Me.

The quality of service, the food and the elegant dining room make All Greek a perfect middle ground between Opa! and say, the Spartan or Cousins.

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