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Jul 29, 2009 01:09 PM

Danforth Entertainment Book

New husband and I want to use up all our Entertainment book coupons before November, and we're saving Mt. Everest and Kathmandu for winter, so we thought we'd do one of the Greek/Danforth choices this weekend: Patris, Zorba's, Kalyvia, or La Cabana (not Greek). Any pros/cons/dos/don'ts?

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  1. Oof that's a real murderer's row of mediocre restaurants right there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: childofthestorm

      we aren't looking for harbord room here - we are trying to save while still having a night out. wedding to pay off and all. but yeah, i know. the book also has Utopia, Insomnia, Mezzetta...we save those for real special times :)

      1. re: LemonLauren

        I hear ya, I got a free book for a few years and would hit places that maybe weren't on my wishlist all the time. Cheap is cheap, sometimes saving money is what hits the spot.

    2. I have been to Patris. It's VERY old school. Could use a facelift - or maybe that part adds some charm. The food is decent. Generous portions. Nothing fabulous, but nothing terrible. I've only eaten the basics there - chicken souvlaki dinner and salad/bread, etc. I remember thinking their potatoes were pretty good. Very lemony if I remember correctly (it was last year).

      1. Zorba's is cheap to begin with, so you can't go wrong using one there. It's the only place of its kind left in the area. Atmosphere sucks, but the food is good. Order from the trays at the front - lamb with artichokes, beef stew, that type of thing. Be sure to get some of the gigantes (giant lima beans) - you can have as many veg items as you want on your plate. They sometimes put out a tray of lamb heads, with teeth (if this sort of thing bothers you...). Don't order stuff like souvlaki or BBQ chicken - stick to the hot table.

        Patri's hasn't changed in 25 years. Their assorted mezes plate has been very good in the past (haven't been there recently), but doesn't qualify for a coupon. Most of their food is passable, but no better than that. One of their waiters is charming; another one is an ass. Large patio facing the side street. Note that Patri's floods the area with their own coupons, so no regular there would ever pay full price for a meal.

        I know several people who find the calamari at Kalyvia extremely good - I'm not a calamari fan myself. They charge a bit less for a grilled whole fish than most other places in the area. I think their food is better than the food at Patri's.

        1. Kalivia is pretty good- they serve decent to good Greek Canadian restaurant standards- nothing fancy, maybe not the best, not worth a special trip from another part of the city, but better than Astoria, FG, Mr. Greek, etc. I like their pikilia, their keftedes, the maroulosalata. It's one the better bets for a family restaurant on the Danforth.

          Agree with embee re: Zorba's.

          Haven't dined at Patris or La Cabana.

          12 Replies
          1. re: phoenikia

            I have a 1/2 Greek friend who lives in Whitby, and Kalivia is the place he likes to eat at when he eats Greek on Danforth. We ate there once with him and I agree with your assessment of it. One reason I haven't dined at Patris is if a restaurant has to advertise so heavily with coupons that they place on cars in the area, I have to assume they can't be very good.

            1. re: foodyDudey

              Although I haven't been to Patris, I understand that the food is decent- maybe not quite at the level of Kalyvia, but better than Astoria/FG.

              I think part of the reason Patris chooses to advertise so heavily is because of their location on the non-trendy stretch of Danforth east of Pape. Many non-Greeks in TO would rather eat in a polished, yuppiefied atmosphere closer to Chester, hence the renos at Omonia, Astoria, Pappas, the Greek Grill-even if the food is subpar- so Patris has to fight harder (with coupons) to get new customers to cross Pape, to enter their restaurant which is located on a somewhat grittier block of the Danforth, close to several bars which might look shady or even scary to CHs from other neighbourhoods. I don't think it has occurred to Patris that too many coupons on the streets might signal to some potential customers that their food couldn't be too good if it's always available at a discount :-)

              Also, I think the coupons act as a loss leader. After the customers are sitting in the restaurant, they might order wine, dessert, appetizers, etc, and the restaurant hopes to make money on other parts of the bill.

              I figure Zorba's doesn't have to advertise, because they already have a steady customer base, many of whom come to eat sometime between midnight and 3 a.m. and even later on the weekend- and much of that customer base doesn't care about the decor.

              Agree that Kalyvia is quite popular with Greek Canadians, seems to be esp. popular with Greek Canadians whose roots are in northern Greece.

                1. re: LemonLauren

                  You're welcome;)

                  For CHs who don't live/work/socialize near the Danforth- here's a link to the Patris website, which lists the menu, as well as a printable coupon:

                  1. re: LemonLauren

                    When I lived in the immediate area in the eighties, there were several different Greek restaurant styles. Many of these restos were very good, but most have since closed. Those which remain have become ever more like clones of Mr Greek.

                    I wouldn't go to Patri's. Back in the eighties, Patri's was one of the better Greek places. It was calmer than those west of Pape and the food was very good. Their patio was the biggest and it was easy to get an outdoor table. Now it isn't really 'bad', but you will do better at Kalyvia. You can get a cut rate meal at Patri's any time.

                    I think the owners of Patri's are tired and would rather not be working. Much of what's on their menu is rarely actually available. Most of the fish is frozen. They have a problem keeping cooks and, a few years back, they eliminated almost all of their signature dishes from the menu. (Before we stopped going regularly, I could sometimes get mama to cook me one of the old dishes.)

                    I Think Zorba's will probably give you the most interesting meal of the three options. Kalivia would be a more pleasing environment.

                    I've never been to La Cabana.

                    1. re: embee

                      Just thought I'd mention a couple dishes that Patris still offers on their menu, which are common meals in Greek homes, but not too common in most Danforth restaurants, are the yemista (stuffed vegetables- usually tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or zukes- with your choice of meat or vegetarian stuffing) and giouvetsi (orzo pasta with tomato sauce, usually cinnamon and some sort of braised meat.) Soutzoukakia (meat balls in tomato sauce) is another dish on the Patris menu that is common in Greece, but not too common in Toronto Greek restaurants. Not sure if some or all of these dishes are dishes that often aren't available. As embee mentioned, availability can apparently be a problem at Patris.

                      Some other restaurants offer yemista and soutzoukakia from time to time, but not too many have them on the menu all the time. The only other restaurant I know of that has giouvetsi on the regular dinner menu is Avli, although there might be others. That being said, I don't know if Patris is serving delicious yemista or giouvetsi- I make them at home, and don't tend to like restaurant versions.

                      1. re: phoenikia

                        Hmm, we live practically next door to Patris and haven't been back since the day we moved into our new house. I'm always on the lookout for things that aren't common in restaurants, so perhaps we'll give the restaurant another try and report our experience here!

                        1. re: gnuf

                          Not sure how tasty they will be, but if you have a 2-4-1 coupon, at least you won't be out much:)

                          I think the food @ Patris should be at least ok. Just a warning- old school Greek restos like Patris tend to overcook vegetables by today's standards. And the salad dressings tend to just be oil and vinegar, with a little oregano.

                          I'd suggest lowering any expectations (as I'd suggest at all Greek restos in TO), so it's more likely that you might be pleasantly surprised:)

                  2. re: phoenikia

                    Kalyvia would be the best of that bunch, but i'd advise you to stick to the mezes. If you're having the dips, ask for all pita to be served with it, unless you are fond of scooping up taramosalata with greasy garlic bread. The horiatiki salad is mediocre and even the small is enormous, too much feta, not enough olives. We usually go to Avli instead for the Imam Bayaldi and other mezes and Lagos Stifado.

                    Most Greek restos in TO are not fine dining so don't expect it. I live on the Danforth and have had good and bad meals at almost all the Greek establishments along the stretch. But on a cheap and cheerful level, Kalyvia is OK.

                    1. re: kitfo

                      Typically, the Entertainment coupons are not valid for mezes. Actually, unless they have changed something in the last year, Patri's assorted mezes plate is one of the best on the Danforth. However, no coupon.

                      1. re: embee

                        embee, a good friend of mine recently mentioned the pikilia/assorted mezes plate at Asteria (east of Pape location) is worth ordering. Haven't tried it yet.

                        1. re: embee

                          Patris, so sad.
                          I held off posting after a so-so meal a few months ago, as we all know, a place can have an off day. And if it is one of "your places" you cut them some slack, at least I do.
                          I think someone said that when a restaurant starts with hand made signs, they are in trouble.
                          Well, I went to Patris this evening for a quick fix.
                          I knew something was up when there was only one other table being served.
                          The menus were actually photo copies slipped in side plastic type page protectors, complete with 3 ring binder holes.
                          Glasses were quickly filled and we ordered a glass of wine and a beer.
                          "SORRY, we do not serve alcohol" we were told. Something about complications with the permit and the owner not renewing it we were told.
                          Well, we can still eat without a drink so we both ordered a couple of chicken souvlaki plates. A plate of garlic bread arrived and it was the usual , toasted and flavourful,
                          Salads arrived soon thereafter and while it was OK, the tomato tasted off, as if it was in the cooler a little too long.
                          Mains arrived and while the chicken was OK, the rice was bland and undercooked. Toward the end of the meal, one of the cooks got out from behind the kitchen area at the front, scratched her belly and got back behind the counter as another table had arrived. Well, we had that look in our eye at meal end and we both pretty much said at the same time that "they are about done".
                          We won't be back sadly. A once favourite of mine.
                          Sadly though, I like the ambiance and the staff (outside of that cook tonight) are genuinely nice people. Not professional servers etc. , just good neighbourhood kind of folks.

                          Patris Restaurant
                          888 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1L7, CA

                2. we ended up at Kalyvia and we not dissapointed. the music was loud and the service aggressive, but seeing as our frame of reference for Greek food is Just Greek at the mall, we were pleased with the value and quality given that we only paid for one entree!
                  we got a dip sampler with the hummus, eggplant dip and the feta dip (i think) which were all very flavourful and filling, and thanks for the warning with the bread~
                  i got Horiatiki salad (sp?) with grilled chicken - i ordered large to get the coupon discount and to have some to take home. i liked that there was no lettuce, tonnes of peppers and tomatoes cut way too large, lots of chicken and olives and very thick layer of feta that my husband devoured.
                  he got the pork souvlaki which i found a bit fatty but he enjoyed. considering the discount we didn't pay for his entree and had a half litre of wine, and the bill was just over $50 before tip.
                  plus, it was a lovely night for a walk on the Danforth, as we don't live in neighbourhood, overall, it was a lovely evening date on the cheap!