Overall impression: When Trata Greek Taverna and Wine Bar opened three years ago, it was a welcome addition to the ethnic restaurant offerings on Las Olas Boulevard. Call it upscale Greek for people who want not only moussaka ($14.95), pastitsio ($13.95) and grilled lamb chops ($26.95), but great Greek wine to go with it.
Ambience: Trata wins the prize for most-handsome Greek restaurant. You'd never know it from the crowded patio you pass from the street. But inside, warm wooden walls and white linens give the room a casual elegance. With just a dozen tables plus a large bar with comfortable stools, Trata fits the bill for a business lunch or a romantic dinner.
Starters: If you can judge a restaurant by its Greek salad ($13.95/large), then Trata needs to up its game. The tomatoes weren't ripe. The cucumbers were tasteless. The triangle of feta helped, but it had very little salt, oregano or oil. Too bad. Dolmades ($5.95), or stuffed grape leaves, however, were superb, and served with a small amount of tzaziki. Classic flambeed saganaki ($8.95) didn't get heated enough, so we had to slice it instead of dip into it. But you can make a meal here of appetizers, from babaganoush ($5.50) and taramosalata ($5.50) to classic spinach pie ($6.50) and Mykonos mussels ($9.95) with garlic, onions, lemon and white wine. Trata's bread is a delight.
Entree excellence: Shrimp saganaki ($14.95) was outstanding, a baked casserole of butterflied shrimp, tomatoes, garlic, feta cheese, herbs, white wine and olive oil. That bread basket comes in handy when eating this dish. Well-trimmed lamb chops ($26.95) are marinated before being grilled and served with potatoes, a vegetable medley and rice in desperate need of seasoning. Chicken Aphrodite ($17.50) features a chicken breast stuffed with a creamy mixture of spinach, feta and herbs and topped with fresh lemon-dill sauce. It was good, but just a bit overcooked.
Liquid assets: Forget your chardonnay for a minute and try a glass of crisp Greek Moschofilero ($10) or a glass of the white Kretikos blend ($8) from Crete, fruity and aromatic and perfect with Greek food. The wine-bar part of the restaurant's name isn't just for show, and the staff will make recommendations and give you tastes. Just ask.
Sweet! All the great Greek desserts are here, but baklava ($5) wasn't sweet enough, and usually creamy galaktoboureko ($5) tasted almost like cake. My favorite was kataifi ($5), the pastry made with shredded sweet dough that looks likes angel hair pasta.
Service: Pleasant and accommodating. The staff not only knows the menu, but knows how to please.
Dining deal: Sit at the bar during the 4-7p.m. happy hour and get half-price drinks and appetizers.
jtanasychuk@SouthFlorida.com or 954-356-4632. Read his blog at SouthFlorida.com/sup and follow him on Twitter at @FloridaEats.
1103 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Hours: Lunch and dinner daily
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Conversational
Outside smoking: Yes
For kids: Highchairs, boosters, menu
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Meters Sunday-Tuesday; $5 valet Wednesday-Saturday