From the Greek word for “Turn” it’s a sibling of the Turkish “Donair” and Lebanese “Schwarma.” Although it’s often made as a meatloaf of highly seasoned beef and lamb, authentic gyros are actually chicken or pork slices that are stacked on a skewer. The meat is vertically roasted on the spit with the heat and distance from the meat adjustable to speed up or slow down the cooking.
It is to Greeks what hamburgers are to westerners. Consisting of meat on a pita the consumer can customize the sandwich as he or she sees fit. As a general rule, tzatziki, tomatoes and onions are what make up “Everything” but that can vary.
Oh, and it’s pronounced, Yee-Roes with a slight roll of the “R”.
Just north east of Toronto’s downtown core is Greektown. Home of the massive Hellenic celebration, “Taste of the Danforth,” it’s one of the largest Greek communities outside of Greece.
It’s also home to Messini. A small restaurant serving genuine Greek food in a friendly atmosphere. Owner Marinos Dafnas opened his cafe in 2002 with great anticipation. Having “Test driven” some of his menu at the ‘02 Taste of the Danforth festival the feedback proved invaluable and he was able to give patrons a taste of what would be in store.
Dafnas honed his skills and recipes cooking in his native Greece as well as Germany before immigrating to Canada. He worked fine dining in Vancouver and Montreal before realizing his dream of opening his own place. The result of his years in the business and his commitment to the restaurant and product has made Messini an anchor in the heart of Greektown.
My lunch visit saw dozens of people either dining in or taking out. It’s no surprise either. The food is fantastic.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present some of the most authentic Greek food the city of Toronto has to offer.
My lunch meal was a combo of a gyro with a side salad and drink.
Although I had the lamb before and it was tasty I opted for the pork as it’s more traditional. I have to admit, I prefer the meatloaf style gyros better. It’s what I always thought was a gyro and and as such, in my head, I think if this as more a schwarma. As far as what it is, it’s excellent. The pork is simply seasoned and spit roasted of course. The result if a very nice tasting, tender and juicy meat. The works in this case was tzatziki, tomato, onion and French fries as is normal in the Greek city and restaurant's namesake, Messini. The house made tzatziki is awesome but the French fries don’t really do it for me. I removed most of them and would omit them in the future.
Another misnomer is that “Greek salad” is a lettuce based salad. In actual fact Horiatiki Salata, the menu item often named “Village salad” is the traditional version. Chopped cucumber, tomato, green pepper and onion, dressed with salt, pepper, oregano, olive oil and garnished with feta and kalamata olives. Messini’s version is simply incredible. The vegetables are very fresh tasting and the feta is rich, salty and pungent. The oil has a nice clean flavour. It’s worth a visit just for he salad.
A side of grilled pita with an olive tapenade was also served. It too was very nice.
You can find Messini at 445 Danforth Ave in Toronto.
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You can also visit them on the web
Well that’s all for now. We’ll see ya next time in the Foodcourt.