Helen Greek Food and Wine: Greece had never been so close.
By: Carlos Dragonné
One of the things I most regret not having in the city of Mexico is a good restaurant of Greek cuisine. Yes, I know that I will say that it is in Alfonso Reyes, but the reality is that long ago I stopped going because it stopped being among my list of favorites. In addition, this article will also serve as a call to you to help me to discover some other because I got tired of the look. Why? Because it recently made me remember how much I like Greek food and, in addition, helped me to discover just how good some of their wines. We are in Houston , and today the menu is served in Helen Greek Food and Wine.
Restaurants do not need to be all solemnity and tablecloths long. I think we have said this on several occasions and, in fact, several of our favourites have this wave of fonda or, if you want to be more international, a bistrot, although lately the word anda means perverted or, worse yet, misunderstood.
Having spent the morning touring hallways with art exhibitions at The Menil Collection, I took a taxi to go to this place that was on my list of recommendations and suggestions. It should be noted that I am not make a lot of case to these lists because they seem more a kind of itinerary and, honestly, who likes to go teaching for life what to do? However, for various reasons this trip was I with all the willingness to do what the suggestion says.
So I ended up in Helen Greek, a little place on Rice Boulevard, near Rice University, the Museum of Natural History and the Houston Zoo, which also was a great place to recharge batteries as just the Museum was my next stop. Surprise to me that the art would start in the menu of this place, because catching the diner is one of the hardest things to achieve.
The first thing that attracts attention is the freshness of the place and the huge number of wines that are on display to be a local so small and with all the spirit of a bistro, although I insist, in the conception of the word, before the paraphernalia of those who decorate it with words of false absences of their kitchens.
Hungry and thirsty, although I can’t define them which of the two was the more urgent to resolve, I opened by mistake the wine list. I say “mistakenly” because, as you well know, I am not the expert on this, but the one who accompanies me in all these adventures, so that just a few times, I’m the one who dedicates time to the decision of the party spirit of our rides culinary. But this was one of those errors that I would like to repeat more often.
Rarely have I seen a wine list so much fun, and that breaks any barrier with the diner. In fact, if my head doesn’t fail me -and no, believe me, I have not drunk so much wine-is the first wine list that I read to awareness wine by wine, page by page and word by word. A list of 10 pages of pure Greek wine, any other region.
Only Greece, only wine. How did you keep my attention? Breaking the ice, bringing the world of wine in this space of worldly pleasure and entertainment in which it is born and lives, naturally, wine and what surrounds it. A letter that laughs at itself and, through good humor, recommended that, I assume, are the labels made of who created it. I don’t want them to lose out on the experience but, please, if it is not in their plans to go to Houston soon (not that you’d understand why), enter the page of Helen and Greek and read the wine list.
A place that has food to share comes, almost automatically, in the finalists to favorites of the trip, because the kitchen is this: share and enjoy among all those who are at the table, talking among the aromas which can mean things completely different to those around the saucer. Helen Greek, of course, has to be, in fact, one of the basic concepts of the gastronomic culture Greek.
So we took on the task of filling us with the flavours of a cuisine that, in addition, it is healthy and good for the body, not only for the mood. A Salad with Kalamata Olives, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Heirloom (one of the best that I’ve tried lately and that make me want to find more of this variety in Mexico) and a selection of Dips Greeks were the perfect way to start a tour of the vision of this kitchen in Houston.
The birth of the culture was in Greece, so that makes a lot of sense that many of the flavors or styles of food that we in the west have some kind of reminiscence in the Greek cuisine. And as a lover of everything that comes wrapped in some type of mass, when the menu Helen Greek invites you to venture with the creation of the day in the form of a pie with filo dough, because the only thing that remains is to close your eyes and thank whoever recommended.
It is here that I have to remind you of something that we had already spoken on previous occasions but I put it in full practice in this journey by the city of Houston. The food in new cities can be an interesting challenge and a path that will lead you from confusion to ecstasy on the palate. And, as I have mentioned, this time Houston was more than what would have normally been for me, so that we treat it as a new city, and I applied the advice that someone once gave me and that has worked for me very well. Turn to see your waiter and tell them if they have any dietary restrictions -whether by allergy or by a simple taste – and let him, from the hand of those who are in the kitchen, tell them to do what they would prove if they were sitting in the place that you are.
This being so, only I chose the Pay by a matter of simple principles. After I gave it to a Briam which is a mixture of roasted vegetables with feta cheese that reminds me of why I like it so much mediterranean cooking. The simplicity of a kitchen that is entirely based on the quality of the ingredient, without paraphernalia or presumptions that the decorate. Cheese, olive oil, vegetables, coal and ready. And you know how I like the honest kitchen.
Helen Greek is a restaurant that dignifies what is happening in the cradle of civilization in terms of flavors. And if there is something that defines the cuisine of Greece is the Lamb. It was evident that it would arrive this protein to the table and, in this case, he did so in the form of a simple fillet, served with potatoes and salad. That kind of simplicity, I insist, characterized our tour of the culinary of the region, sitting at the table of this local Rice Boulevard that might go unnoticed if you do not come up with the idea of eating in the head.
While we provide with one of the wines that we got to discover of the hand not only of who is in charge of the impressive digs of this place, but of that wine I mentioned earlier, came to the table with the desserts. And, so, yes, our head ended up flying to places that few kitchens achieved with only a dish sweet: Doughnuts Greek, with sugar of fennel and a creamy topping of Greek yogurt, a few weeks of the trip, I’m still trying to achieve and still stay the same. Well… I can always find me a pretext to return to Houston.
I go out and ask an Uber to continue my day in the Houston museum. While I, in my right hand I have a bag of Helen’s Greek Food and Wine with three bottles of Greek wine that I plan to open in December, at home, while celebrating the close of a difficult year and that all we leave behind. In my left hand to feel the skin of the hand of it, my roommate and accomplice in the culinary adventures around the world. The predicament a bit, and I am grateful to have discovered this place in a city that is willing to surprise me and kick me in the face how little he knew despite of so many visits. And, then, with the flavors and aromas of a stunning meal, even in the mind, the hug and I promise to go to Greece soon, even if you have to do a scale first in Houston to remind us what is the true concept of a genuine cuisine that manages to whisk you away.