Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Committee Ouzeri + Bar: Greek Brunch & New Cocktails

Delicious Greek cuisine, a killer Greek wine list, unique Greek spirits, an inventive cocktail program, and the quality is consistently high. These are some of the reasons why Committee Ouzeri + Bar is one of my favorite restaurants, a place of which I give my highest recommendation. 

They are celebrating their 6th Anniversary this month, and I was invited as a media guest to Brunch this past weekend, as well as to check out some of their newest cocktails, which are based on Greek spirits.

Brunch is offered at Committee on both Saturday and Sunday, from 10am-3pm. Their Brunch Menu offers some Greek variations of popular brunch items, from Tsoureki Toast (Greek French Toast) to Spanakopita Grilled Cheese. You'll also find some of their regular dishes, from Souvlaki to Zucchini Crisps. Prices are reasonable considering the quality and quantity of food. The restaurant was very busy on the day I was there, both inside and on their outside patio. 

They have a full Drinks menu too, including Beer, Wine, and Cocktails, as well as non-alcoholic choices, from a variety of fresh squeezed juices to coffee. Their Seasonal Juice was a blend of pineapple and cranberry juices, which was quite tasty and refreshing, the cranberry helping to mute some of the usual sweetness of the pineapple. 

Recently, Beverage Manager Lou Charbonneau and his team created the Summer in Greece cocktail series, intended to showcase some of the lesser known Greek spirits such as retsina, ouzo, tsipouro, mastiha and Stray Dog Wild Gin. They created four new cocktails, which will be available throughout the summer, until Labor Day. I sampled two of those cocktails and was impressed, finding both to be delicious, well-balanced and harmoniously composed.

The Ultra Crushable Retsina Cocktail is composed of Retsina, Stray Dog Wild Gin, Mt. Olympus Flower Tea, and Lime. The Stray Dog Wild Gin is an excellent Greek gin, where the juniper isn't dominant but you'll be delighted by an intriguing melange of mountain botanicals. I need to get myself a bottle to experiment with it at home. 

A cocktail with Retsina? Although Retsina has a bad reputation with many people, there are plenty of Greek producers who are now making delicious versions of Retsina, not at all like some of the Pine-Sol examples of the past. This cocktail was well balanced, tasty and refreshing, with subtle pine notes beside a dominant herbal melange, mild tea notes, and a touch of sour from the limes. A fine summer cocktail and don't let the fact that it is made with Restina prevent you from ordering one. Give it a chance and I strongly suspect you'll enjoy it very much. 

The Frozen Mastjito is a frozen Mastiha Mojito. Mastiha is an aromatic resin, known as mastic, from the mastiha tree and grown on the island of Chios, especially in the southern regions. The resin is also sometimes called Arabic Gum and Tears of Chios. The sap from the tree is it softens into a gum which may taste initially bitter but then acquires a pine/cedar taste. The ancient Greeks chewed this mastic gum to aid digestion and Chian wine were also highly prized during that period. Nowadays, it is considered a local tradition that Masticha, chilled or on ice, should be served with dessert or coffee.

Again, this was a tasty, refreshing and well-balanced cocktail. It possessed a noticeable and pleasant herbal taste from the mastiha, a hint of mint, and both enhanced by notes of melon. It wasn't overly sweet, and it was frozen, an alcoholic slush that is again a perfect summer cocktail. 

Lou Charbonneau and his team have created a couple delicious and fascinating cocktails, showcasing the versatility of Greek spirits in cocktails. Their other two new cocktails include the Hermes Wallbangeropolis (Ouzo, Vyssino, Mango, Orange, Lime) and the Tiki...Poso S'Agapo (Tsipouro, Metaxa, Baklava Orgeat, Pineapple). Baklava Orgeat?!! Yes, I have to return to check out these other cocktails.

The Feta ($14), an ample chunk, was fried, sesame encrusted, and drizzled with Greek honey, as well as accompanied by a plate of slices of pita bread. I love this dish, such a nice blend of salty, sweet and nutty flavors. Just smear some atop pita and enjoy. It's an excellent snack if you're just going to have some wine or cocktails, or a tasty appetizer before your entree. 

The Greek Yogurt Pancakes (half-order, $16) are topped by a sour cherry vyssino, honey, toasted almonds, and fresh berries. You receive three good-sized pancakes, and it's large enough to share. The pancakes were light and fluffy, just how I best enjoy them, and the toppings presented a nice blend of sour, sweet, and nutty flavors, with a variety of textures as well. I'd enjoy these pancakes simply slathered with butter, but the toppings certainly make it more of a meal. 

The Breakfast Gyro ($14) is amply stuffed with scrambled eggs, grilled Halloumi, and loukaniko, wrapped in a pita, and served with crispy home fries. It was accompanied by a Florina pepper coulis, a spicy sauce you could pour over the contents of the gyro. A hearty dish, made more unique by the addition of the halloumi, and its squeaky texture, and the spices of the loukaniko. The coulis was delicious as well, giving it a kick like tabasco but more depth. And the home fries were nicely crispy, also like a home-made French fry. 

The Loukaniko Hash ($16) presents 3 sunny-side up eggs, atop a pork and leek sausage, butternut squash, celery root, and spinach, with a side of sourdough toast. A fine hash, enhanced by the yolks of the eggs. 

Committee remains consistently excellent, a great showcase for Greek cuisine, wine, and spirits. Their new cocktails, which use Greek spirits, are creative and delicious, and just right for the summer. Go visit their patio, enjoy the weather, try a couple of their new cocktails and enjoy some of their cuisine. 

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