Surf and turf

The surf and turf with shrimp saganaki and lamb chops at Ethos Greek Bistro, located in the Promenade Coconut Creek. (Mike Stocker, Sun Sentinel / July 31, 2012)

four stars

Located in Coconut Creek's Promenade off Lyons Road, a new restaurant excels with a fresh take on traditional Greek cuisine. Ethos Greek Bistro, open for nearly three months, blends contemporary style with Old World flavor.

The restaurant's decor is decidedly more Miami than Mykonos. Simple white chairs and shiny tables fill the room, which features a high ceiling with relaxing recessed lighting. Full-length windows and deliberately half-finished bricks make up most of the eastern and southern walls.

"We don't want to be your everyday Greek place. The blue and white with the little windows," says 40-year-old owner George Pappas, a native of Crete who grew up helping out in his father's restaurant. "The look and the menu is along the lines of the contemporary look."


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Given the traditional cuisine and trendy trappings, passersby may wonder if the restaurant boasts more style than substance. It doesn't. Ethos delivered one of the most-delicious Greek meals our group had eaten in recent memory.

At Ethos, a large assortment of small plates ($5-$11) make for good appetizers or a tapas-style dinner. We first went with a sampler of Ethos' four spreads: hummus with roasted garlic and olive oil; spicy creamy feta with roasted red pepper and hints of jalapeno; grilled eggplant with walnuts and red onion; and Greek yogurt and cucumber with garlic and dill ($9). While such an assortment of spreads is a common appetizer, Ethos' version is a step above, thanks to a delicious yogurt made in-house and hot, fresh pita bread.

We also tried another staple: a simple Greek salad ($8) with high-quality feta cheese and a mild dressing. Grilled octopus with capers and red-wine vinegar ($11) features a nice balance of olive oil and seasonings that carry the plate. But given the portion size, it's relatively pricey.

Like many things at Ethos, the traditional dishes are excellent. Spanakopita ($7), a spinach pie wrapped in phyllo dough, has a flaky crust that rivals any bakery's. Fried calamari rings ($9) enjoy a beer-battered quality and are unusually large. Grilled lamb and beef kefte with mint, parsley and caramelized onions ($7) were spectacular in their flavor and tenderness. This item is often cooked to a dry, bland mess, yet Ethos offers a top-notch rendition.

While we were impressed by the appetizers, Ethos followed them with even-more-sensational entrees.

The lamb chops ($24) at Ethos are marinated for 36 hours with rosemary, thyme, garlic and orange zest. They are less citrusy than other versions we've encountered at Greek restaurants and are seasoned to balance with the flavors of the meat.

A Greek-inspired seafood paella ($20) was another table-pleaser, served as a large bowl of orzo in a striking tomato sauce with loads of shrimp, calamari, mussels, clams and octopus. We enjoyed the rich-tasting mussels and perfectly cooked orzo.

Moussaka ($14) with eggplant, meat sauce, potatoes and bechamel is a solid offering. It's milder than the typical moussaka, but the taste of the individual ingredients comes through.

What really got the table talking is the so-called "rebel lamb" ($21), also known as lamb kleftiko and bandit lamb. An uncommon find in a restaurant, this dish is inspired by bandits or rebels (depending on whom you ask) in Greece who would steal lambs from the countryside and cook them underground to avoid detection. At Ethos, the restaurant uses chunks of lamb shoulder, which they wrap in a bag of parchment paper and slow-cook for seven hours with potatoes, tomato, carrots, garlic, olive oils, goat cheese and a blend of seasonings, including rosemary, thyme and oregano. In essence, it is a slow-cooked stew without the broth, but with an alluring richness that had the entire table raving.

Dessert didn't disappoint, either. Galaktoboureko ($6) is a warm custard wrapped in a deliciously flaky phyllo dough. Baklava ($6) was crunchy, rich with honey and heady with cinnamon. My favorite was the ekmek kataifi ($6), a square pastry served cold with a delicious layer of cream and a honey-drenched crust, and topped with swirls of chocolate sauce.

Home to some of South Florida's youngest neighborhoods, West Broward now claims a restaurant that takes one of the world's oldest cuisines and elevates it with a fresh take.

dsanchez@sun-sentinel.com, 954-356-4818


Ethos Greek Bistro

4437 Lyons Road, Unit E104, Coconut Creek

754-999-0050, Ethosbistro.com

Cuisine: Greek

Cost: Moderate-expensive

Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily

Reservations: Not accepted

Bar: Beer and wine

Sound level: Moderate

Outside smoking: Yes

For kids: Kitchen will accommodate special dishes and sauces upon request.

Wheelchair accessible: Yes