Where Did We Go?
Helen Greek Food and Wine
2429 Rice Blvd, Houston, TX 77005
What’s The Skinny?
With so many restaurants opening in Houston lately, sorry correction…with so many “good” restaurants opening in Houston lately, it’s hard to keep up and stay current. How does one decide or even distinguish which good ones to try or recommend? For us we stick with a simple formula, it must be a complete experience that starts upon entering an establishment and continues until we leave. That seems to separate good from the “DAMN that’s good” spots! One new spot that fits the bill for us is Helen Greek Food & Wine. This cozy and quaint spot is serving up a seasonally rotating menu of modern Greek fare, or as we say in Urban Swank speak “they put their stank on classic Greek food”! Additionally, if you are into wine they are pairing the menu offerings with a complete Hellenic wine list.
Helen’s has been a dream in the making for owner Evan Turner, but once it was time to turn it into reality he and his team had only 31 days to transform the space (it was Kahn’s Deli for the last 31 years) into tavern chic. Usher in interior designer Erin Hicks, who had her work cut out for her with this project! Taking inspiration from the vision of owners Evan Turner and Sharif Al-Amin, all the fabulous exposed brick, and her fascination with leaning mirrors, Helen’s was born! It’s easily a space that compliments the food and provides the right amount of foreplay to get your palette ready for the delicious fare.
What Did We Love?
At Helen’s, you won’t have any problems eating your veggies! And because the menu is perfect for sharing you’ll find yourself tempted to just order the entire menu, which is exactly what we did; with a few minor exceptions that have already been noted for subsequent visits.
Greek Village Salad – We have some good news and some bad news. In typical fashion, we’ll start with the bad. Since heirloom tomatoes have their peak season during the summer months, we are not certain how much time you have left to enjoy this dish. The good news? Aside from the amazingly beautiful presentation of generous chunks of heirloom tomatoes blended with cucumbers, black olives, red onions, feta cheese, and olive oil, the Greek salad is an explosion of flavors that pop at every turn. The bright colors, deliciously meaty texture, and salty/sweet flavor profile (from the varieties chosen) is simply amazing.
Stuffed Squash Blossoms – Zucchini blossoms have such a mild and extremely subtle flavor, they can easily adapt to and take on the presence of other ingredients. With that said, you won’t be able to go for just one of these lightly fried zucchini “fritters”. Generously stuffed with creamy cheesy ricotta goodness, the filling seemed to ooze out slightly with each bite; which is probably why we found them so irresistible. The golden batter makes them ideal for dipping but they’ll have no problem standing solo.
Greens & Cheese Pie – Almost too perfect to eat, this luscious circle-shaped pie stuffed with four types of greens and three types of cheeses was most decadent and rich at the same time. Enfolded in a flaky fillo dough and topped with a sprinkle of capers, the ingredients do not overpower each other so you really get to enjoy the equal balance of greens, cheese, and crust. The Greek cuisine is known to pay close attention to their veggies and this dish is a grand representation of how Helen Greek Food and Wine is knocking it out of the park.
Lamb Ribs – The lamb ribs are another dish where the greens shine although they are not the focus. They buy the entire lamb from Black Hill Farms but chop it in house as they are not certain what they are using for the day. Well we lucked up because our day was the day of the lamb ribs. Each tender lamb with its admirable layer of delicious fat was positioned in “jenga” fashion and placed on bed of orza pasta and collard greens. We’re not sure what they’ll have when you go, but between lamb ribs, chops, or bacon, you’ll be just as happy with whatever “cut” you land.