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My Big Fat Greek Dinner

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From the piped-in music to the white-and-blue décor, everything about Taverna Yamas! feels Greek and casual, even on a slow Monday night. Upon entering the Souhside restaurant, our party was greeted with “Opa!” as the host led us to a cozy corner booth.

Seating is ample in this relatively new dining spot, and the establishment easily accommodates up to 350 guests between its indoor dining room and outside patio. On the evening of our most recent visit, the dining room’s emptiness seemed surprising. We surmised that a weekend evening visit would be a better time to experience the restaurant’s belly dancers, DJ and table dancing (though doing so is at your own risk, according to a sign on the wall). With little else to distract us, the menu was our primary focus.
Just after we were seated, our friendly server delivered a complimentary plate of creamy hummus and warm pita triangles (listed on the menu for $5). We shared an order of saganaki ($8), a traditional Greek cheese appetizer which is set ablaze with brandy upon delivery to the table. Our server informed us that our order would be her first attempt at the visually mesmerizing dish (okay, that news did make us a little nervous). Nonetheless, she executed the delivery flawlessly, and a tall flame washed over the cheese for several seconds before extinguishing itself, creating a thin, crispy shell. The cheese was thick, flavorful and salty. Next, an original Greek salad ($8) arrived. Plump, hearty chunks of tomato, a generous block of feta cheese and a light, lemony vinaigrette make this salad a refreshing precursor to an enjoyable meal.
Our entrées arrived quickly, and were presented on simple white dishes that highlighted the natural colors and textures of the food. The Islander ($26) is plentiful and loaded with shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels and clams atop a bed of linguini, cooked to a firm al dente. Kleftiko ($19) impressed as a delicious Greek comfort food dish. The aroma of carrots, potatoes, garlic and lamb wafted across the table after I removed the parchment paper in which the meal was prepared, and the lamb was tender and robust. My guest’s Grouper Plaki ($19) was a little overcooked, but the flavors of fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh herbs and white wine harmonized wonderfully with the fish. The spinach-infused rice was soft and savory.
We finished our meal with a generous slice of baklava ($5) that practically dripped in honey and left a pleasant aftertaste of cinnamon. Everybody agreed that the flaky, sweet dessert was a menu highlight.

Taverna Yamas!
9753 Deer Lake Ct.
Southside(904)
854-0426
tavernayamas.com

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