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Best of the City: Greek taverna takes top spot

Asteras in the Old City Quarter chosen Nanaimo’s Best Restaurant Overall
Una Carlson, a server at Asteras Greek Taverna, shows off the lamb souvlaki from the lunch menu. The restaurant in the Old City Quarter was once again voted Best Restaurant Overall in Nanaimo’s Best of the City survey. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Asteras Greek Taverna has established a winning tradition in the Nanaimo News Bulletin’s Best of the City survey.

The Old City Quarter-situated restaurant was voted Best Restaurant Overall, Best Mediterranean Food, and Best Romantic Restaurant by readers, something that has occurred regularly in the past.

Among items on the menu are roast lamb, moussaka, calamari, baby back ribs and Paidakia, rack of lamb chops, a favourite of Kristine Roscoe, Asteras’ manager. She said the portion sizes are generous and good ingredients are used, which are reasons why customers make return visits.

“For example, when we’re doing our rice, and it’s being prepared say in a chicken stock, they’re not opening up a bag of chicken bouillon,” said Roscoe. “They’re boiling chickens and using chicken stock.

“They use top-quality products for all the meats. They don’t skimp, because obviously, how it works is the better quality product that you start with, the better quality product that you’re going to end up with.”

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The fact that the restaurant is located in an old house adds to Asteras’ romantic ambience, said Roscoe. Wedding receptions and dinners and marriage proposals have taken place within Asteras’ walls, she said.

“It’s a very, very quaint house …We like to make sure that the candlelight is going all the time. The colours are warm and welcoming,” Roscoe said. “The level of service that we try to provide is high-end, like fine dining without being intrusive.”

When asked why Asteras is a perennial contender, Roscoe credits owners Nichole Sullivan and Peter Paraskevopoulos, who opened the restaurant 12 years ago.

“They are here 365 days of the year,” said Roscoe. “Nichole does the cooking, so unlike most restaurants where … the chef will move on and then the quality of the food changes, the appearance changes, here it’s always going to be the same because Nichole is our cook.

“She has helpers obviously, nothing can be done without helpers, but they’re her recipes that she created 12 years ago and anybody that comes in to help her, she’s training them to do it her way.”

Roscoe also said consistency is always key when you’re running a restaurant.

“People come here and they’re going to have that roast lamb and they want it to taste the same now as it did a year ago,” said Roscoe. “So Nichole’s taking care of the kitchen and then Peter’s here and there’s nobody that I know of that can out-host Peter. He’s gracious, he’s kind, he’s welcoming.

“He wants each and every one of his guests to have an experience, not just a meal.”

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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