Drawn by Nostos inclusion in Washingtonian magazine’s best restaurant listing, my wife and I had tried to dine at Nostos before without success. Once, no reservations were available and another time we were dining on Sunday, when the restaurant is normally closed. So, when my friends let me select a restaurant for our gathering, I quickly made a reservation and succeeded in getting a 5:30 seating on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. The experience of our group of five was quite consistent with many other reviews here. The restaurant is very popular, and so I’m guessing that reservations normally need to be made at least a week in advance.
The restaurant is indeed tucked away in an office building with no other commercial establishments nearby. More confusing still, the restaurant’s name is posted on two corners of the building, which led us to try a doorway that was locked and not the restaurant’s. With the confusion sorted out, we were seated immediately but our waiter asked us for our drinks selection and inquired if we were also ready to order without much time to consider our selection. When he returned after a few minutes, we were ready and, in general, found that our food arrived promptly. As others have noted, however, the bus boys were too quick to try to remove our dishes, requiring several in the party to shoo them away. The noise level in the restaurant also does make conversation a bit difficult.
We started with a combination of three dips – tzatziki, melitzanosalata (made from eggplant), and fava santorinis (pureeed fava beans), which came with wonderfully tasty pita bread. Our bread basket also came with a side of a tapenade-style olive dip. Rather than ordering a selection of mezedes to share, we all ordered main courses. My wife had a salmon filet, I ordered Kakavia seafood soup from the daily chef’s specials, and others in our group had moussaka, sea bass filet, and lamb chops (paidakia). I originally intended to order a lamb dish, and the arni fornou, slow roasted boneless leg of lamb, seemed very appealing, but the broth of my soup was quite tasty. The soup had shrimp, calamari, mussels, and pieces of white fish, but no scallops. I noticed my friend’s moussaka, which came in the bowl that it was baked in, was a rather small portion. The menu as a whole provides a very good selection of authentically Greek dishes. We also shared a bottle of merlot that cost $27, which was the least expensive with other selections as high as $50-$65.
All of our dishes were quite well prepared, but my wife’s dining experience was spoiled by an unfortunate lapse. She specified that she wanted the potatoes left out of salmon and, in fact, the waiter announced the dish as salmon without potatoes as he served it. Since my wife is on a strict diet, she wanted to avoid the temptation of the potatoes and so she was quite aggravated when she discovered the waiter was mistaken. The salmon dish did include potatoes.
We finished by sharing two desserts, both of which were very good – galaktoboureko, which the menu describes as semolina custard wrapped in phyllo, and baklava. The baklava was not as sweet as others that I’ve had, which I thought was good.
The service was quite prompt. In fact, I had the impression the waiter wanted to be sure to be able to turn the table over in time for the next reservation, but I didn’t feel I was being unduly pressured nor could I blame the management since the restaurant was indeed completely full. With tip, each person’s tab was $42. I would like to return to try the lamb dish, but my wife does not want to go back.
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