Locale Profile: Kleos — The New Greek Concept in PVD

IMG_0808In Greece, after you’ve just taken your first bite of freshly made dolmades, delicately constructed stuffed grape leaves dipped in a cool tzaziki sauce — when that involuntary moan of approval escapes from your lips, the word you’re looking for is “nostimo.” Delicious.

By way of introduction, my name is Jenny, and I am a Greek-aholic. I first caught wind of Kleos months ago, before there was even a Facebook page to hint at its arrival. I started sending messages as early as April, inquiring about their opening day, anxiously awaiting their debut. I’d walk down Westminster and peer through the butcher-papered windows, spying on construction. At one point, I was told they were planning to open on my birthday, which seemed divinely ordained, but instead they officially opened their doors one week later, on July 17.

There is no question: Greek food is my favorite food in all the world. There’s something to be said for the Mediterranean diet that keeps Aristotelian descendants healthy enough to gather olives from underneath their trees well into their 90s. That olive oil alone is worth drinking by the spoonful, and I knew for sure Kleos was the real deal when I ran out of bread to soak up the oil on my plate and switched, literally, to a spoon.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My friend Jeremy and I arrived right at 7:30 for our reservations into a packed house. For an opening night, word must have gotten out — every table was full. Inside, the restaurant is small, but they’ve maximized their space to include an entire wall-length bar to the left, booths down the middle and tables along the right, next to the windows. There are also patio seats where patrons can cheers the Oberlin diners next door.

As soon as I stepped inside I noticed the place feels Greek, and I’m not just saying that. It was louder than most Greek restaurants I’ve visited (indoor dining is not something I’ve done in Greece), but there was so much light. The wall of windows allowed the restaurant to be illuminated until the sun went down, highlighting the potted plants along the booths, the traditional white wooden walls and blue tiles, a very nautical theme. The bench seats were decorated with blue and white pillows, some emblazoned with an anchor. There was an air of summer, and — at least in my case — joy.

The menus came on clipboards that were painted blue, with Greek designs and simple navy and white text. So many options to choose from: cold meze (meze = appetizers), hot meze, salads and soups, makaronia (pasta), Greek classics, meat and fish dishes, and side dishes that spoke straight to my heart. Jeremy deferred to me, but first we ordered drinks.

IMG_0820I chose the Santorini Sunrise, with Deep Eddy grapefruit vodka, Campari, grapefruit juice and a splash of grapefruit soda. Truth be told, I ordered this drink because one of my favorite Greek fishermen always drinks Campari, and it made me think of him.

Jeremy asked which Greek beers I knew, and I said Fix and Mythos. Throughout the course of the night he tried both, preferring the latter. My drink was, in fact, the color of the sunrise, and despite being grapefruit heavy, did not strike me as a tart drink. The balancing effect of the Campari did wonders.

Food was a difficult decision. I’m used to ordering family style, and ordering three times the number of dishes as there are people, but here I was forced to narrow it down. I was craving every side dish, from fasolakia — green beans — to tyrokafteri, spicy feta, but we decided to go with the Kleos meze plate, which offered the classics: spanakopita (spinach and feta inside filo dough), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), keftedes (meatballs), zoutsoukakia (grilled Greek sausage), vegetables, tzatziki (an addictive yogurt-based sauce) and fries.

We also ordered a horiatiki salad (ie, the traditional “Greek” salad), briam, which is a cooked vegetable dish that I’ve never seen on an American menu, and an open-faced gyro.

Sweet Lord have mercy. We were full after the meze plate. The spanakopita was cut into thick, tall slices, bigger than I’m used to but one of my favorites of the mix. The plate was large and filling, and I enjoyed everything except the olives; they tasted more like American black olives than their kalamata relative. Jeremy and I seriously started to worry because of all the food we’d ordered, certain we’d be taking home leftovers.

IMG_0865Next came the Greek salad, and this is where I have to brag on Kleos: they made it perfectly — fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with sliced onions, olives and peppers, topped with blocks of feta cheese, sprinkled with oregano, and — the best part — a layer of olive oil covering the plate. It was amazing. This is what I saved my bread for. This is what I drank with a spoon. The olive oil they use comes from the owner’s family’s olive grove in Greece, and you can taste the difference.

At this point in the night — we’d probably been there over an hour — the waitress told us there was a mix-up in the tickets and the kitchen lost our briam order and had run out of ingredients. By way of apology, they offered drinks and dessert on the house, apologized profusely, and Jeremy and I were relieved; we couldn’t have eaten it if we’d wanted to. We struggled to finish the gyro, and only because it was so delicious we couldn’t leave any on the plate.

But there’s always room for dessert, right? We chose the yogurt parfait, alongside another round of drinks and a Greek coffee. I was expecting the small Turkish-like coffee but instead got a Fredo Cappucino. A hot drink would’ve been better with dessert, but this brought a rush of memories — it tasted just like a Greek afternoon. I wish I could order them during the day!

From the over-the-top kindness of the owners to the traditional dishes and the Greek atmosphere, I can only say that I’m thrilled to have this restaurant in Providence. The only thing left to say is this: Everything was nostimo.

250 Westminster Street, PVD

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