HOW MANY CITIES HAVE A SOMMELIER WHO IS OBSESSED WITH GREEK FOOD AND WINE? And of those, how many opened a Greek Taverna stocked full of Greek wines? We’re guessing only 1. Listen, we’ve had Greek wine by the bottle at Greek Festival with the best of them, but never Greek wine like this. EVAN TURNER (that obsessed sommelier) and his team at Helen Greek Food and Wine know their stuff. Aside from impeccable service in an intimate but lively atmosphere tucked into the north side of Rice Village, Helen is what all restaurants should strive to be. Fun, unique and f’ing good. Intimate at Helen means a narrow but tall space full of tables for, we’ll guess, 70 max, sidewalk seating out front, dim lighting and a lot of exposed brick (and racks of stored wine bottles); it’s also full of crowds and a staff that quickly become friends. The menu changes seasonally, and the wine list is extensive(ly greek!). Beer is well-represented, too. Foodwise, Helen, using locally sourced ingredients, has a menu covering all regions of Greece, which for you means you can get Sunday brunch, dinner or lunch, such as kataifi benedict, gyro, chicken souvlaki, grilled octopus or a butchers cut of the day. Or order meals worth of the small sharable plates we don’t have enough room to write about. This is a unique place full of passion, that’s for sure.
So Evan goes to Greece last summer, and this Perfect Pair is the result. The Marinated Herb Salad & White Anchovies is Helen’s composed and serious take on the Greek staple of bay fish and herbs thrown on a plate, served all day long in a taverna by the sea. Listen, the marinated white anchovies are nothing to be scared of. They taste wonderful, adding just a nice bit of salinity to the herbs (mint, parsley, oregano, dill and purslane). We’d scream “OPA” when these are mixed with the crumbled dakos, sunflower seeds, cucumber, salt
and aleppo pepper, and the dressing (aka Ladolemono) and presented to us on a plate, but Helen is so boisterous no one would even hear us. However, as it happens, when you order more at Helen, things get way better. So when we pair this salad with the 2010 Domaine Glinavos Zitsa Brut, wine from one of the most remote areas in Northwestern Greece, not only do you get to drink a lean yet crisp, mineral-driven sparkling wine from Greece, but, you also get to enjoy what might be the Perfect – Greek – Pair. Right here in Houston.