SENSATIONAL SAMPLER The hot meze platter.
The Greek community in Providence isn't as large as, say Italian or Portuguese, so Greek restaurants are scarce, unless you count pizzerias. (Feta hasn't replaced mozzarella yet, but just you wait.)
Andreas, an institution in the Brown University neighborhood for more than four decades, almost makes up for that, if you give points for popularity and longevity.
In warm weather, cafe seating on the sidewalk offers agreeable people-watching. Inside, the climate is always pleasant, not too noisy, with sunshine seating along one window and a beckoning central bar. Black-and-white photographs taken in Greece fill the walls, artful architectural compositions as well as scenic views.
The carefully selected wine and beer list is worth mentioning. They have a full two dozen bottled beers, including Mythos from Greece, and a half-dozen more on tap. More interestingly, Greek wines are prominent, with many available by the glass. Of course, there is the obligatory ouzo, the traditional anise-flavored aperitif, and connoisseurs have their choice of four brands.
Andreas | 401.331.7879 | 268 Thayer St, Providence | Mon-Thurs, 11 am-Midnight; Fri-Sat, 11 am-1 am; Sun, 9 am-Midnight | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Accessible
I usually order retsina when I can, which brings me back to a vacation in Athens' Plaka neighborhood, when my morning task was to trot down to Kosta's and fill an empty liter bottle or two, for 25 cents each. Every taverna made their own supply, which tastes of resin (it's not for everyone) because of the original practice of storing the white wine in a goatskin waterproofed with pine sap. Andreas offers two brands, but I suggest the cheaper and popular Koutakis, since the mild piney flavor predominates; anything beyond a gentle table wine is going to waste.
Because sometimes not everyone in a dining party is into ethnic, for appetizers Andreas' dinner menu includes "American Classics" that amusingly include Prince Edward Island mussels ($10.99) and calamari ($10/$13). Among the main dishes, "Traditional Entrées" include herb-crusted pork tenderloin ($18.99) and fresh salmon ($17.99). For those who have come to Andreas for the right reasons, there are four preparations of lamb, from the leg thereof ($18.99), rubbed with rosemary and garlic, to grilled lemon-oregano chops ($18.99).
Pasta temptations include feta and spinach ravioli ($9.99) and trahanas ($10.99), which is gnocchi and grilled chicken in a Muscat wine and wild mushroom crème fraîche.
I started with the avgolemono ($2.25/$3.50), a chicken, egg, and rice soup tarted up with lemon in good balance. Across from me, the Mediterranean seafood stew ($3.50/$4.95) was hefty with clam broth but slight on the salmon, haddock, mussels, and shrimp; come on, kitchen, scoop from the bottom.
Among the Greek appetizers was a grilled octopus plate ($12.99), which none of us at the table could pass up. The nicely charred heap brought to us could induce flashback fainting in someone traumatized as a kid by 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, so be forewarned. The lengthy tentacles were chewy but not overly so, and tangy from a pre-grill marinade. A small balsamic-drizzled side salad was also on the platter.