A Recommendation Rekindled
Yanni’s Mediterranean Grill
“Yanni’s,” he said. “It’s next door. It’s good.”
So I walked over and looked at the menu in the window and realized that I, a cash-strapped 20 year old, could not afford to eat there.
That was about two decades ago, and somehow, during the interim, I never came back. No particular reason. I didn’t hold a grudge or anything like that. It’s just that, in my mind, the idea had solidified that Yanni’s wasn’t for me. And so things stood until a few weeks ago when I finally realized I was no longer a cash-strapped 20 year old, overcame my irrational avoidance and stepped inside its front doors.
I’m glad I did.
Inside, it’s a comfortable open space with a full bar against the back wall and bright paintings of Greek coastal scenes set between faux-classical columns. There’s a large patio for the warmer months (it’s enclosed and heated in winter).
Now, about those more dazzling other items: Starting with appetizers, the saganaki is a fun way to tantalize your palate. It’s a plate of kasseri sheep cheese which is given a dose of rum and a table-side flambé.
Now, about those more dazzling other items: Starting with appetizers, the saganaki is a fun way to tantalize your palate. It’s a plate of kasseri sheep cheese which is given a dose of rum and a table-side flambé. The resulting cheese is now bubbly, creamy and melty beneath its singed crust, and slightly gamey in that sheep-ish way which makes for a perfect place to dip one’s pita wedges.
If straight-on Greek is your game, then the kotopoulo is not to be missed—a baked and traditionally prepared Greek chicken with crisp skin, moist interior and a tangy, aromatic seasoning. The Greeks love lemon juice almost as much as they love olive oil, so expect a citrusy zest.
Like many Nob Hill restaurants, Yanni’s has added a brunch to its lineup of mealtimes. If you like to start your Sunday with a bang, then the Wake Up Mary cocktail will do the trick. A Bloody Mary made with green chile vodka (infused in-house!), served in a jar and garnished with a frankly ridiculous amount of produce—olive, pepperoncini, cherry tomato, lemon wedge and pickle all working to block your beverage from drinkability. Fortunately, it comes with a straw. The green chile gives the traditional Mary a spicy New Mexico intrigue and you’ll either find yourself flooded with the fire necessary to face the day or ready to crawl back to a Sunday sleep, depending on your metabolism. For my breakfast, I ordered crabcakes eggs benedict, a brunch special, to accompany my get-up drink. Softly poached eggs quivered alluringly atop a platform of fresh-tasting crab, a glaze of chipotle aioli drizzled over it all gave it a savory sting. Quartered baby potatoes, doused in lemon juice because Greeks, joined the cakes for a breakfast that can only be called “hedonistic.” But dammit, you only live once.
So, thank you, clerk at a long-gone Nob Hill record shop, for your recommendation. It was a good one, even if it took me 20 years to realize that.
3109 Central Ave NE
Hours: Tues-Thurs: 11am-9:30pm Fri-Sat: 11am-10:30pm Sun-Mon: 11:30am-8:30pm