Evi Evane means ‘To your health’ in ancient Greek, and we have to say, we’ve walked past the restaurant a number of times without really noticing it.
Which is odd, because it has been there for nearly fifteen years and seems to have a very good reputation. Sisters Maria and Dina Nikolaou serve authentic Greek food there, and the restaurant won a prize for the best foreign cuisine in Paris a couple of years ago.
We decided to go down and try out some unusual dishes, but not everything went smoothly. Let us explain…
You almost certainly don’t know it, but chef Dina Nikolaou is a star of Greek cuisine! As well as the restaurant that she runs with her sister Maria, and their nearby delicatessen, she has a recipe book out (30€ here at amazon.fr) and a very slick-looking YouTube channel!
Unfortunately, neither she nor Maria were present the night we went to Evi Evane, which perhaps explains the hiccups that occurred during the evening.
When we arrived it was 2°C outside, and the waiter offered to seat us at a table just by the door, while a couple of others a little further away were available. We chose one of those, and it was a good idea – the windows aren’t perfectly sealed and there was a cold draft throughout the night. We nearly had to put our coats back on.
At 8pm the restaurant (which is quite small) was already full. The waiter, with over thirty people to serve by himself, was running around. He gave us our menus, one in French and one in English (with no explanation of why).
Then he returned smartly to take our order. We decided to start with a classic – some vine leaves stuffed with rice, fresh herbs and served with Greek yoghurt.
Ten minutes later, we were waiting for the starter and the waiter returned… with our main dishes! When we told him, he apologised profusely and said he would serve it after the mains, for free. This made us think that it wasn’t the first time something like this had happened.
Also, our dishes were not hot.
The king prawn Youvetsi was served with little kritharaki pasta tinted black by squid ink, and everything was disagreeably lukewarm. The waiter seemed so busy that he couldn’t look after serving thirty people in the main room and be at the kitchen at the right time to get the dishes out hot. This was a real shame, because the dish would have been much nicer served properly hot. The king prawns were firm, and we enjoyed the fried garlic and thin slices of radish.
Luckily, the vegetarian dish of the day – white beans in a tomato sauce – was warmer, with just enough delicious oil and touches of carrot in the sauce. A seemingly simple dish done right.
Clearing away our empty dishes, the waiter kindly suggested a free glass of wine instead of the vine leaves, but we really wanted to try them, and they arrived shortly after.
Served hot on a tasty bed of tzatziki and green olive oil, they came accompanied by a basket of bread that would have been appreciated with our main dishes (that were served before the starter, remember?)
Despite the mix-ups, we decided to finish our meal with some desserts, because they looked really good! And for once, there’s no tiramisu available, just 100% greek sweets!
It felt like a really good dessert that your grandmother might make, with the honey well-dosed so as not to make it all too sickly.
For the second dessert, we ordered a portokalopita, a soft orange cake made of shredded filo pastry, topped with a caramelised fig yoghurt mousse. This was a really great surprise, succulent – something you’d have a hard time finding elsewhere in Paris.
These two desserts helped us forget the problems with the service during the evening, but behind us a table of eleven had just arrived, and it seemed unlikely that the kitchen would be able to prepare eleven dishes to be served at the same time, or that the waiter would be able to serve them quickly enough for them to stay warm. A second waiter (for around seventy diners that night) would have simplified and improved things no end.
One last comment about the restaurant. If you go to the toilets during your time there, be prepared for a typically Parisian experience.
When you open the door you’ll find yourself… in the stairwell of the apartment building! The toilets are smart, but it’s a surprising change of scene!
This dishes at Evi Evane are delicious, without a doubt, but it is a shame that the staff are so sparse that the meals aren’t always served correctly – we had our starter forgotten, didn’t get any bread, were served lukewarm food… all this because the waiter was rushed off his feet (we did feel sorry for him).
We’ll almost certainly go back, when the restaurant has a couple of tables on the pavement and the cold isn’t a problem. There are still some dishes we want to try!