December 26, 2019 Update
Christmas Day this year was one where there were no family events going on(we are dinner, etc., today). By the time I finish the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services, I’m not really up for preparing any food.
I looked and noticed that Helios, a family Greek diner, not far from St. Philip’s is open on Christmas Day. So, after the building emptied out, I wandered down there for lunch.
It was around quarter to two when I arrived and Helios was pretty empty. Just one couple and one single occupying tables. I ended up with a table in the back corner of the restaurant. I took a quick look at the menu and was not sure what I wanted. When the owner came by with my water, he told me the special of the day was ham steak with fries for only $7.99. I ordered that with a bowl of avgolemono soup to start.
The ham steak is really enjoyable. It is made from a real ham, and not one of those pressed ones. The owner suggested I use the tzatziki with the ham, but I used it in place of ketchup for the fries. A great alternative.
In keeping with the festive spirit, I finished off my meal with a plate of baklava. This was all enjoyed along with some wine. A nice, Canadian, merlot-malbec blend. Then, fully sated, I spent most of the next 20 or so hours asleep. Merry Christmas to all.
Just down from St. Philip’s on Saint Mary’s is a new restaurant known as Helios. Helios restaruant falls into the category of replacement restaurant. Prior to Helios opening up the space had been home to La Petite France. La Petite France falls into the category of “restaurant that I always intended to visit but never did.” When I saw that there was a new place opening I decided I’d try it out sooner rather than later.
As you might suspect from the name, Helios is a Greek restaurant. The first thing that stands out about Helios as you enter is that it is bright and open with lots of natural light coming in through the windows. While not a large dining room there are still plenty of seats and room between the tables. Both times I visited I found myself seated by the window.
Helios for lunch
My first visit was on a Sunday after the service at St. Philip’s. It was one of those days where the tidying up and everything afterwards meant it was well past the lunch rush by the time I went. This meant that the dining room was empty.
For my meal I decided that I would go for a mix and match Greek meal. I started with the Avgolemono soup, added some Spanakopita, and went with the Gyro for my main. The soup was a bit of a disappointment, in that while the chicken was tender and rice well-cooked, there wasn’t any real lemon flavour to it. The Spanakopita was nicely filled, but the bottom layer of pastry was a little overcooked. this was also true of the Gyro meat which was a little dry and crispy.
The second time I went I ordered the 2 piece lunch sized chicken dinner. I also went with the side order of garlic toast. The same thing happened with the chicken as with the gyros, the meat was slightly overcooked. I liked the fact that it came with a rather thin coating, but it could do with a couple of minutes less. The fries were well cooked and crispy. I really enjoyed the garlic toast which came in an order that contained for massive pieces of toast.
Both times I went I received very good service. The second time I went I was one of only two customers, but I didn’t have to wait for my order to be taken. A second employee, I believe the manager, came and took my order while the server was occupied. I like that their are refills on soft drinks, and my water was kept topped up. Helios is licensed, but during the day I generally stick to the non-alcoholic beverages.
Another thing that Helios does really well is portion sizes. The Garlic toast as an appetizer serves four quite easily and if you were ordering a couple of appetizers to go along with it could be stretched quite comfortably to serve eight. Between that and a lunch sized chicken dinner I left the restaurant stuffed.
Helios is only recently opened, and so far the only thing that makes me a little hesitant to heartily endorse it is some of the food being a little on the overcooked side. Hopefully over the next few weeks they can fix that. It’s certainly a reasonably priced option for family dining.