ESTIA_on Locust - Noisy, Expensive, Minimal Portions and Overpowering Service – Stay Away
A group of four of us dined last night at Estia’s on Locust. It is an attractive looking restaurant but the noise level is deafening in the restaurant’s grotto shaped dining room. With it’s cramped tables and din of Greek music, carrying on a conversation is impossible. The biggest shock amongst a lot of shocks is the incredible prices. No wonder the website does not show prices. I would remind the management that this is NOT New York City and Center City diners expect a little more for their money. The service is also overpowering. They annoyed us asking four times what type of water we preferred, bottles, still, mineral or iced tap. Our server was droopingly attentive until the wrong entrée arrived than he could not be found. The table arrangements are very cramped. I was jostled about sixty times in the period of five minutes. When I complained to a manager about the jostling of my seat by the wait staff, there was a momentary short-lived relief but it resumed only minutes later.
The food is prepared and presented very well but at the cost of entrees and appetizers, the portion size is unfathomable. I had a swordfish soulvaki that was adequately flavored but no where near worth $24. We had a beet and scordalia appetizer that looked as if the beets had been scraped out of the bottom of a can. The scordalia, a usually delicious concoction of garlic and starch (bread or potato) was bland. The greens that accompanied the dish was tasty. My partner had a lamb shank dish which was tasty but dry considering that the preparation was a braising, there seemed to be a lack of braising sauce. One of our companions order the salmon and was delivered the swordfish, after one server refused to assist us and went in search of “our” server, our over apologetic service re-appeared and said it was his fault. I never understand that. If you order something and get another dish presented, isn’t it always the server’s fault? It certainly is not the diner’s fault. Then to add insult or injury, when the check arrived not only were we charged for the salmon that eventually arrived but we were charged for the swordfish entrée which as wrongfully delivered.
The wine by the glass prices are also astronomically priced with glasses starting at $9 and ranging to $14. The desserts were keeping with the overpriced theme of Estia and not worth the price. The Greek yogurt was tasty and rich but $9? The chocolate soufflé was not up to “industry” standards. The bitter chocolate is supposed to be complemented by sweeten whipped cream or in this case gelato. Yet the gelato had no flavor whatsoever.
My recommendation is to avoid Estia unless you enjoy overly pretentious service, being baged out of your seat every few seconds and being charged nearly $250 for a dinner for four with one glass of wine, two shared appetizers, four entrees, and two shared desserts. Money well spent—Hell NO!
Stick with South Street Souvlaki – The service is cordial and friendly, the portions are extremely large and a very good value. The taste is superior to Estia’s too.
We have eaten at Estia a number of times and found the food to be above average at lunch and really good at dinner. The fish and the octopus are always top notch. We never have encountered any pushy servers but my only complaints are that it is pricey and that the desserts are not so hot. And then comparing it to South Street Soulvaki? The food is good there but I've found the soulvaki meat overdone consistently. The octopus is ok and the hummus is good, but it's not like Estia. The value is good there though. The decor at South Street (unless you're a fan of those yellow bug lights) is more mom and pop than the Greek Isles however.
The first time we went to Estia we thought the food was delicious but the prices too high for us.
The next time we went for the prix-fixe three course dinner and we were very pleased. There were three or four choices of appetizer and three choices of entree - really good choices, and everyone loved what they ordered. There was no choice for dessert, but I loved the cake that was served.
We tend to eat early - often before a concert - so the prix-fixe works out well for us. Maybe because we were sitting on the side of the room, but the noise level was acceptable. We can be quite critical about our food, but the evening we were there, everyone liked every course. Drink prices were high.
But we will certainly return.