Axios Brings Greek Food to Highlands

Denver Restaurant Week features dishes from the regular menu

Most places participating in Denver Restaurant Week develop special menus — both shorter and often with smaller portions — that they can serve for $26.40 per person. Axios Estiatorio in the West Highlands neighborhood used popular dishes from their regular menu — and as far as four of us could tell, the portions seemed rather “regular” as well. They offer a choice of five appetizers, four entrées and two desserts.

Axios occupies space that previously was Brasserie Felix, a short-lived French restaurant and before that, once a Singer sewing machine store. There are still subtle Gallic decorative touches — mainly the pole lights along the divider in the front of the restaurant — and the current owner, Telly Topakas, has refrained from hanging photos of the Acropolis, Santorini and Greek statues and urns on the white walls. At Axois, a sister restaurant to Jake & Telly’s Greek Taverna in Old Colorado City, the “Greekness” is communicated by the food, both family recipes from the Greek Island of Chios and what they call “progressive Mediterranean dishes….created with strong Greek influences.”

Fresh pita puts the supermarket stuff to shame, and slightly seasoned olive oil is the ideal accompaniment for dipping.

When it comes to Greek wines, my only rule is ABR — “Anything but Retsina.” We shared a bottle rich, round 2009 wine made from dry Muscat grapes under the Colorado-sounding High Peaks label but actually from a coop on the Greek island of Samos, along with fresh, soft pita with olive oil for dipping. Here’s what else we ate:

Smooth, garlicky hummus with more pita, carrot sticks and celery sticks.
Greek lentil soup made with organic Aegean lentils.

The third appetizer, which two of us ordered, merits more than just a caption. Saganaki is a bit like Greek fondue or raclette. A slab of Kasseri, a sheep’s mile cheese, is pan-seared until melted in the kitchen, doused with ouzo, set aflame and brought to the table with a cry of “opa!” from the waitstaff as they set it down. That is not Green for “Ouch, I burned myself,” but rather, a joyful cheer that appears to have no direct English translation. After that, it’s DIY (Douse It Yourself).

Melted Kasseri cheese lies beneath the flame, which theoretically is extinguished with a squeeze of lemon juice but in reality requires a big birthday candle blow.

 And on to the entrées

Pastitsio, kind of a Greek lasagne, made with seasoned meat, pasta, Greek cheeses and Bechamel sauce.

 

Souvlaki, here made with marinated, skewered and grilled pork tenderloin (not lamb), is served with Green rice and vegetables.

 

Giouvetsi, slow-roasted lamb shank topped with a roasted tomato/lamb sauce and served with orzo, a rice-shaped pasta popular in Greek dishes and crumbled cheese.

And guess what! I neglected to photography my own dish, a bowl of Mediterranean pasta — penne pasta tossed with tomatoes, spinach, onions, capers and garlic and sautéed in white wine and butter sauce topped with feta cheese.

Sweets

Baklava, arguably the most famous Greek dessert, served with a touch of crème Chantilly, the French name for sweetened whipped cream -- and therefore perhaps a subtle tribute to Cafe Felix, which preceded Axios.
Katafi, a Greek tort filled with chocolate, ricotta cheese and pistachios and topped with shredded Greek pastry, soaked in a citrus syrup and also served with crème Chantilly.

I wrote earlier that we felt the DRW portions weren’t scaled-down — and if they were, regular portions must be humongous. I took home half of each of my three courses and have been happily and slowly finishing them ever since.

Axios Estiatorio on Urbanspoon

2 thoughts on “Axios Brings Greek Food to Highlands”

  1. The saganaki appetizer was as delicious as it was dramatic (my punning husband called it a flamboyant flambe). I was only going to have a bite of my dessert, but the Katafi was so good I had to finish it all :-)

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