Despite the relatively simple ingredients involved, Mediterranean food is surprisingly hit-or-miss. A lot of places err too much on the side of blandness, and others just flat out get it wrong. The Greek Bistro in Kihei avoids this common conundrum and is a definite must for fans of southern European fare.
Not unlike the cuisine it serves—which is often overshadowed by the ubiquitous eats from nearby Italy—The Greek Bistro is tucked away behind the formidable and popular upstairs-downstairs combo of Fred’s and Moose McGillycuddy’s. Though it doesn’t have the same visibility, and the ocean view is a tad obscured, the space is quite nice. Tables are scattered throughout several interconnected, brightly painted open-air rooms that surround a covered bar. Large clay pots along the railing contain various plants and, on our visit, a drowsy orange and white cat who looked like he’d had his belly rubbed by a tourist or two.
The menu isn’t loaded with choices, which is actually a good thing for me. I tend to be an indecisive orderer, changing my mind multiple times up until the moment the server puts pen to pad. Here, my decision was made the moment I spotted spanakopita.
For those unfamiliar, spanakopita is a thin phyllo dough pastry usually filled with spinach and various cheeses. To call yourself a Greek restaurant you must nail this dish, and the Bistro does. The pastry was flaky but held together and the filling—a mix of caramelized onions, Parmesan and feta—was deliciously gooey.
Two of my companions opted for the Greek combo, which features one instead of two spanakopita and a skewer of lamb souvlaki. The lamb was tender and not overcooked as it sometimes is (many establishments are less skilled with lamb than beef, which makes sense in our cow-centric culture). All dinners are served with a side of either rice or roasted red potatoes.
The youngest member of our bunch ordered the ziziki bread, pita coated in melted mozzarella, cheddar and feta served with a tzatziki dipping sauce. It’d make for a fine pupu but in this case played the role of a personal pizza for a hungry keiki.
For dessert I went with the baklava, a rich, dense pastry filled with chopped nuts and, in this case, a hefty dose of cinnamon that bordered on overpowering but won me over after a few bites. Others at the table opted for the cheesecake drizzled in strawberry sauce, which I of course had to sample for journalistic purposes.
With entrees that average around $20, the Bistro isn’t the place to pop in for a snack on your way to the beach. But it also won’t break the bank, and the fare is good enough to justify the price. I said Mediterranean food is hit-or-miss—in this case, it’s a hit. MTW