Enflaming a Passion for Greek in Orlando

On June 23, 2012 by Kennethrobinson

This summer, if you are looking for a Greek flame that’s a little more tasteful than the lacklustre Olympic torch making its soggy parade around the damp extremities of the UK, then why not take a trip to Orlando, and whilst there, visit the awarding-winning Greek Flame Taverna?

The only drizzle to be found here is the olive oil dressing on a delicious salad – this particular Greek Flame burns so brightly that we heard about it from all the way over here on the other side of the Atlantic, making the Promethean effort to bring you this particular taste of Hellenic fire to our blog today. If Greek food sets the sirens a-singing in your head then read on.

This Greek restaurant’s ancient roots (well, ok, not that ancient) go back all the way to the Delights of Greece, a popular little deli and food shop that took over the site of an old Pizza Hut premises in Winter Park, Orlando. Over the eons the shop evolved into full-service restaurant, achieving mythical status as the alpha and omega of great Greek food in Orlando. Here diners would find a whole host of ambrosial delicacies and foods fit for the gods. Over time the iconic establishment began to urn a big fat Greek reputation.

However, when the lease on the premises finally expired in 2010, owner Maria Chrissanthidis, and indeed the whole of Orlando, narrowly avoided what could have been a true Greek tragedy with the restaurant facing imminent closure. Yet instead of closing its doors, the staff had a eureka moment and they came up with the plan of re-opening across town under the name of the Greek Flame Taverna. The migration across the city to the new location just off Sand Lake Road was a considerable undertaking, and of course it ran the very real risk of abandoning the cohorts of loyal fans who had come to know and love the restaurant, fans who indeed had helped to make it the very special place that it was in first place. Luckily many of the customers remained stoic in the face of this adversity and went on to happily make the trip south with Maria and co. With a new and improved menu on offer, they would be joined here by many, many more new customers, drawn by the promise of great food, a bustling atmosphere and a truly good time.

Since re-launching, this place has earned its fair share of column inches (Doric or Ionic – take your pick). The food has won it several awards and recommendations including being chosen as the winner of the Foodie Award for “Best Greek” in Orlando six years on the trot, as well as the 2011 MyCityEats “Best Greek” in Orlando.  These heroic achievements have not gone unnoticed by customers who flock to the restaurant like moths to a Greek Flame.

With delectable dishes on offer, from the classical meze to kiria piata, and seafood  dishes so mouth-watering they’d put Poseidon to shame, this really is the place to enjoy the very best in Greek cuisine, outside of the old country. For starters dip into a bit of classical tzatziki, or dive into generous helping of skorthalia, as smooth and refreshing as the Aegean itself. The taramosalata is creamy and divine, whilst the melitzanosalata is a show-stopper.

With entrees such as the outstanding pastichio – a juicy casserole of succulent noodles and flavour-filled ground beef luxuriating in a rich béchamel sauce, set off with a dusting of Parmesan – how could you go wrong?

Continue your culinary odyssey with delectable dishes such as the dolmades: soft and delicate grape leaves, stuffed to bursting with the moist, subtly-seasoned strains of luscious beef and rice. Alternatively, try the spanakopita, a taste-packed parcel of sliced spinach and feta or the salata thalassinon, a Greek salad that is a timeless classic, topped with no less than three enormous grilled shrimp. This makes an outstanding option for a lighter bite that is still eminently filling.

Or how about the arnisio kotsi? a succulent and tender shank of lamb, oozing with an intense and eminently appetising sauce. Indeed the lamb dishes are outstanding, the Taverna is well-known for them. The delectable Tou Arnisio, a rack of lamb, oven roasted with fresh rosemary, olive oil, fresh lemon and Greek herbs is a favourite. Alternatively the lamb loin presents the finest imported lamb and has proved a huge hit with customers, as has the glorious grilled Calamari, replete with a succulent taste that will linger on your palate pleasantly.

The homemade desserts will have your eyes popping, and the atmosphere is vivacious and bustling – in short, everything you’d expect from the very best in Greek dining.

This is one Greek extravagance that won’t break the bank(s), and whilst the portions are far from Spartan, when it comes to splitting the bill, the great value food on offer here is unlikely to cause a clash of the tight ‘uns (sorry, couldn’t resist!) When you are next in Orlando, be sure to make a date with this delicious destination!

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