601 Broadway E
Seattle WA 98102
The Greek Odyssey on Capitol Hill
By: Bryan R
Named after a mythical and ancient Greek city, Byzantion has been serving a wide variety of Greek cuisine for many years in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. As we rounded the corner, we noticed the exterior of Byzantion which is dotted with decorative tiles and painted in warm, welcoming colors. On balmy evenings, seating is available outdoors along Broadway and provides for pleasant people watching along a relatively calm -though by no means sedate- intersection.
As our reviewers entered the restaurant around eight in the evening, we noticed that a fair number of patrons were already enjoying themselves. In fact, for a weekday it almost seemed crowded- a sign that normally bodes well. The interior is dominated by the warm, yellow walls, various pieces of art, pottery, woodwork and a slightly out-of-place fish tank that housed some happy goldfish. There are several mixed-level seating areas that help to create a spacious dining room. Large windows allow natural daylight to stream into the restaurant, and, on warm days, several folding glass doors can be retracted to let in a pleasant breeze.
When we entered, we were quickly shown to our seat and promptly provided water. Since we exhibited a little hesitation selecting an appetizer, our server was more than happy to give us a couple of suggestions. This was rather helpful as the menu is fairly large, and many of the options are a little obscure. So, if in doubt, ask your server for advice on a safe bet.
For an appetizer, our party enjoyed the skordo with goat cheese. This dish features warmed, softened goat cheese garnished with rosemary, several cloves of roasted garlic, and kalamata olives all soaked in olive oil, served in a hot cast-iron skillet with a side of pita bread. The delectable flavors of the cheese, rosemary and garlic all mingling together in olive oil were simply wonderful and result in a highly recommendable dish.
Another option is the saganaki- fried cheese, splashed with alcohol and served flaming with pita on the side. Not only is the dish quite tasty, but it also comes with a good show. A couple of our reviewers also enjoyed a small glass of chilled ouzo with their appetizer. If you’ve never had this licorice flavored liquor before, we’d recommend that you sample it.
For the main entrées we ordered a wide range of dishes which started with the kotapeta, a phyllo dough wrapped chicken and vegetables pastry spiced with dill and thyme. Lemon flavored potatoes and steamed vegetables were served on the side. Although decent, the phyllo dough became a bit soggy towards the end of the meal plus several tough slices of onion were off-putting. The chicken, however, was moist and well cooked.
Next we sampled the psarosoupa, a tomato based seafood soup (reminiscent of cioppino soup), which was a mixture of halibut, salmon, shrimp, calamari and various shellfish. Although the spices in the broth tended to overwhelm some of the more delicate seafood, the variety was enjoyable. On a chilly day, this dish would be a treat.
Lastly, we tried the arni psito, an Aegean style roasted leg of lamb marinated and cooked in a broth of olive oil, tomato, parsley, garlic and various other spices. Our reviewer found it slightly oily but the meat was tender and moist, while maintaining a meaty flavor to the cut. However, the vegetables that were served on the side exhibited an overly strong, unpleasant vinegar flavor.
Although there were a few ups and downs throughout the dinner, the dessert was a major highlight. After giving the menu careful consideration, we settled on the galactoboureko, a custard-syrup combination flavored with orange, accented with orange zest and all wrapped in phyllo dough and baked to perfection. One reviewer commented that the dessert was splendidly awesome and a pleasant treat to be shared with a party. If you’ve got room to spare after your meal, this dessert is highly recommendable.
Ultimately, the value of our dinner was about average with prices and portions generally comparable to other similar restaurants. And although the various offerings can be pretty good, many dishes are not quite fine-tuned. If you have any doubts, ask your server for a recommendation. Parking can be difficult in Capitol Hill but the side streets to the north tend to have a few more spots open. Also, Byzantion is dinner only (M-F) and while it's ok for small to medium sized groups, the layout of the tables could make it difficult to host larger groups.
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