Recently, I visited Simi Estiatorio, an upscale Greek restaurant in downtown Austin, which opened in May 2021. My good friend, Noah Caust, was very gracious to take a fledgling entrepreneur (me) out to dinner.
Simi Estiatorio's location at the start of "Dirty" 6th Street in Austin, Texas has been the site of fancy restaurants before, which is interesting, since at any given time, you might peer out the large bay windows of the restaurant and witness drunken revelers or members of our fine city's homeless population out for an evening stroll.
That being said, the space is designed superbly, and even hosts Saturday and Sunday day party "brunches," which I will have to check out in the future.
The food is very expensive; definitely at the upper end of fine dining in Austin. I would be fine with this fact if the food was truly world-class.
Our three course meal started with the Greek Salad, for $27, which we split. The heirloom tomatoes were succulent, the vinaigrette was a superb blend of oil and vinegar, and the feta cheese was my favorite part of the dish.
We then shared the Seafood Yiouvetsi, $52, which is a tomato-based, cioppino-type blend of calamari, lobster, shrimp and orzo.
I love tomato-based pastas, but this dish seemed a bit mundane taste-wise, especially given the jaw-dropping price tag. The plate's visual aesthetics were impressive as the lobster claw presented in the dish was massively Texas-sized.
Yet the lobster claw meat was not nearly as plentiful as the shell's mirage might present, and a lack of suitable silverware made it difficult to get at the tiny portions of lobster meat in the pincers of the claw.
I know restaurant costs have skyrocketed since the pandemic, and I am sympathetic; I grant that this Greek seafood stew contains plentiful shrimp, calamari and a lobster knuckle as well as the claw in the picture. However, if I am paying $52 for an entrée in Austin, I expect world-class cuisine. Am I wrong? Or have I lost touch with the post-pandemic restaurant reality we live in these days?
For our final and third course, we ordered the baklava.
Sometimes restaurants save the best for last, and this was indeed the case at Simi Estiatorio. In fact, the baklava was my favorite part of dinner.
What a sweet tooth I must have. After being underwhelmed by the first two courses, the baklava had the perfect balance of honey and pistachio, and paired with the mouth-watering vanilla ice cream, I ended up feeling satisfied as the friendly staff bid us adieu on a Wednesday evening in Austin, Texas.
Ultimately, in my opinion, Simi Estiatorio is not worth the price. The service was attentive, the vibe is top-notch, but the food has to be five stars at this price. You can give it a miss for dinner.
Definitely check out the club evenings and brunches, or you can just go to the bar and have a coffee and the baklava before you head out to West 6th or Dirty 6th one night. That might be more ideal and budget-conscious.
Granted, this is the fanciest and, arguably, best Greek restaurant in Austin. However, I have eaten some of the finest Greek food in my life when I lived in New York City, specifically out in Astoria, Queens, which is known for its Greek population. We would enjoy the best swordfish kebabs and Greek saffron rice with lemon pepper boiled potatoes that I still dream about.
At these prices in Austin, I expect that experience, and I was disappointed.
This Review Graciously Made Possible by Noah Caust.*
* Funny how I never paid for expensive dinners during my business career when I entertained clients for work, and that part of my life has not changed. I just enjoy them way less often these days, which is fine by me.
Starting next week on September 7th, I will post Episodes 3-6 of my new original docuseries "The Story of My 9/11," as well as my new original song "Never Forget - 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Edition."
It will certainly be a week never to forget.
Have a nice holiday weekend.
Austin from Austin