No one’s dancing on the tables or yelling “Opa!” at the new Thasos Greek Taverna. Don’t expect belly dancers or plate-smashing, either. The setting, a few steps from Fort Lauderdale beach, blends South Beach chic with the rustic charms of the Greek islands.
Thasos, named for the birthplace of Gus Leontarakis, the co-owner with Sophia Mylona, is gleaming white, from the sleek furniture to the 2,500 ribbons of fabric suspended over the long white bar, all meant to echo the whitewashed buildings of the Aegean coast. Blue glass plates, lighted ceiling tiles and pictures of Greek islands projected onto the walls provide splashes of color, and four large toy lambs at the entrance add a bit of whimsy.
Open since early August, the 150-seat space (with room for another 75 on the patio) serves modern takes on Greek classics. Dishes tend to be lighter, with ingredients including honey, oregano and olive oil imported from Thasos. The design may outshine the cuisine, but there are bright spots on the menu, along with an intriguing list of spirits.
You can savor sophisticated ouzo cocktails with watermelon and rosemary or linger over a Greek side car made with Metaxa Seven Star (a brandy-based Greek liqueur), Cointreau and lemon. The wine list is extensive, with nearly 20 by the glass and Greek options such as a $28 white muscat and $79 red agiorgitiko. The brews include a $5 Mythos.
Thasos offers plenty of grazing fare, dividing the menu into spreads, “from the garden” (salads and vegetables), shared plates and “from the fire.”
Friendly servers start your meal with warm, crusty bread and Kalamata olives. Or save your carbs for the toasty pita points that come with an order of spreads. Our favorites were the cooling yogurt-cucumber dip tzatziki and the whipped feta with cured tomatoes and a hint of hot chiles. The green chickpea spread, a lighter version of hummus, was bland.
We loved the clean Thasos summer salad of watermelon cubes topped with fat squares of feta. Veggies include Brussels sprouts with honey and house-cured pork belly as well as baked eggplant and fingerling potatoes.
On the list of shared plates, a highlight was a bowl of paper-thin zucchini chips paired with tzatziki that I devoured solo. I did share the nicely charred, fire-grilled octopus with a lemon and olive oil dressed served with roasted fennel. The fried calamari was not as impressive (a dipping sauce would have helped), but mussels steamed with leeks and smoked pimento pleased with their sea-salty perfume and lovely, ouzo-spiked broth.
Greek grandmas might grouse at $17 moussaka, but Thasos does a terrific job, layering lots of chopped lamb with eggplant slices atop a crust of sliced potatoes. The souffle-like topping of lightly browned kefalotyri cheese and béchamel is Hellenic heaven.
Lamb is just as well-treated in an order of tender, juicy chops seasoned with fresh thyme, rosemary and garlic and served with fingerling potatoes.
From the sea, scallops are plump and tender, though pricey at $29, served with flavorful orzo, sliced artichokes and leeks.
Desserts include house-made baklava with almonds, yogurt and honey panna cotta with blueberry preserves and cinnamon-scented galaktoboureko, a creamy custard wrapped in phyllo. With some tweaking, Thasos’ future could be just as sweet.