25 Oktober 2010

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Xandros -- Greek Food and Dancing in Beverly Hills

I have a passion for Greek food. In my rather long and quixotic life, I have traveled the length and breadth of the Greek islands in search of great food, beautiful women, business opportunities and splendid views... and found all from time to time. In the late 50s, one of my client/mentors was a fabulously wealthy Greek businessman, Nicholas Reisini, who purchased the Cinerama wide-screen movie company, which is why I came aboard. I spent much quality time in the taverns of Athens and on his yacht visiting the many islands. One of my mightiest culinary regrets has always been the lack of really good Greek food in Los Angeles. Sure, we have Taverna Tony in Malibu, which is fun. A fine restaurant in Manhattan Beach, Petros, but the drive is a bit daunting. Years ago there was decent place on Third Street, Sofi, entered through a long alley... but I haven't heard of it since the Greek doctor/owner went home. There is Papa Christos in the South Bay, questionable, and George Christy has mentioned a tiny place in the Farmer's Market.

Now the draught is over and we celebrate the ascension of XANDROS GREEK RESTAURANT (50 N. La Cienega Blvd., just next to Lawry's ½ block up from Wilshire, Beverly Hills (310-854-1001). Thanks to a charming and brilliant Greek businessman named Adam Kariotoglou, we have a palace dedicate to Greek food, Greek dance, Greek... everything. Adam has opened 30 restaurants since 1984, working his way up from age 14 as a busboy and dishwasher to becoming a successful restaurateur in the Seattle area. "But I always wanted to open a really extraordinary place in Los Angeles, where I have been living for the past seven years, and when the exciting space on La Cienaga offered itself, I grabbed the moment," he told me opening night. There have been many restaurants in the space, last being something called Tokyo Table, but Adam has redone it complete, from the smart bar and seating area as you enter to an exhibition kitchen, a smartly appointed dining room with banquettes and booths a large patio for summery dining, and private rooms which -- I suspect -- will be filled with great Greek parties from here on in. Oh, yes!