Sherman's Food Adventures: Minerva's


So my first visit to Minerva's was before Ryan Reynolds proclaimed it as his favourite restaurant in the world.  Fortunately I made a reservation for my next visit also before he shouted that out!  I'm sure the place is going to be pretty busy because of it.  Not that it wasn't popular before...   The place offers up classic Greco-Roman cuisine in large portions and most important of all, it is delicious.  I'm not sure if I had tried the place out in my youth because I don't quite remember, but we did live nearby at one point, so maybe?  Well Ophilia re-introduced me to Minerva's and I am so glad she did.

Now you might laugh at a picture of a House Salad and Caesar Salad.  I mean what is so interesting about salads that are included with an entrée?  Well first of all, the ingredients were fresh and of good quality.  Look at the ripe tomato (it was like this for both visits) and the crisp leafy greens.  Also, the house dressing is just plain delicious.  It is tangy and full-flavoured with plenty of herbs.  The Caesar dressing is on point too with a good balance of impactful hits of cheese, garlic, lemon and anchovy.

For an appie, we had the very generous portion of Calamari to start and it was well-executed.  Each piece was uniformly crispy with properly seasoned batter.  The non-greasy batter was light and stayed adhered to the squid.  About that squid, it was tender with a pleasing chewiness.  On the side, the Greek yogurt tzatziki was garlicky and had the classic thick viscosity.

Now if you know me, then it would be no surprise that I decided to order the Roast Lamb Shoulder with rice pilaf and roast potatoes (pita bread too, served on the side).  I gotta say this has been one of the better versions of this dish I've had in town.  The meat was super tender and fatty which melted-in-my-mouth.  I found the marinade to be impactful with plenty hits of salt, herbs and garlic.  Even though the oven reheating char on the outside was rather aggressive, it still ate well.

Another dish I wanted to try was the Moussaka which can be made with lamb or beef.  In this case it was layers of beef, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and of course béchamel sauce on top.  I thought it was generally quite good with lots of tender meat and equally tender veggies.  There was the usual hints of cinnamon and nutmeg as well.  One thing that could've been better was the béchamel as it was rather stiff and dry.

Of course, with restaurants of this ilk, there is a section dedicated to pizza on the menu.  For those who are familiar, the type of pizza is closer to Roman-style (but not exactly) than the thin crust neapolitan we find everywhere.  We ended up with the Meat-Tastic sporting pepperoni, ham, salami, Italian sausage and ground beef.  As you can see, the amount of toppings was generous.  This made the pizza hearty and full of flavour.  There was also enough cheese.  As for the crust, it was crispy around the edges and the bottom while soft and chewy in the middle.

Believe it or not, one of their best dishes is the Baked Spaghetti with meat sauce (can be had as vegetarian as well), mushrooms and a bucketload of cheese on top.  Now will this ever be confused with "gourmet pasta"?  No, but that is not the point of this style of pasta anyways.  This version was so comforting, meaty, tomatoey and full of ooey gooey cheese.  We loved this so much, you will see that we substituted the rice and potatoes in the following dishes.

Yep, we got a side of baked spaghetti with the Beef Souvlaki ($5.00 upcharge but totally worth it IMO).  Nothing against the rice and potatoes (they are fine after all), but the side of spaghetti makes the meal so much more hearty and interesting.  As for the beef souvlaki, it was beautifully charred on the outside and the beneficiary of a proper marinade.  The chunks of meat were super tender and for me, I like to put some of that thick garlicky tzatziki it. 

If you were really hungry, I suggest you give the Beef BBQ Ribs a try.  The picture doesn't even do this justice as the ribs were gigantic with plenty of prime rib cap still on the bone.  The meat was fatty and tender with a good amount of char.  Tangy and sweet, the ample amount of BBQ sauce was all the flavour needed.  Oh and yes, the side of spaghetti was yums as usual.  So after reading this blog post, you might be wondering why Ryan Reynolds declared Minerva's as his favourite restaurant in the world right?  Well, I believe there is some childhood nostalgia on his part as well as the comforting nature of the food.  No, it isn't the most gourmet food nor is it the most expensive food either.  It truly is about well-executed eats that won't break your wallet and is presented in generous portions.  I guess it must remind Ryan of home.

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Good portions
- People who care about the business and customers

The Bad:
- Can get busy, even with reservations (and this was before Ryan's shout out)


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