From start to finish, Poros in Market Square serves a variety of delectable dishes
Market Square’s Poros is the newest edition to Yves Carreau’s Big Y Restaurant Group (which includes Perle, Seviche, Sonoma, and Nola on the Square).
Named after the Greek island known for its crystal-clear beaches and vibrant nightlife, Poros means “passage” in Greek. Carreau wants diners to be transported to the Mediterranean with the restaurant’s atmosphere and cuisine.
Heading the kitchen is executive chef Chris O’Brien, formerly of Hyehold in Moon and Restaurant Echo, the now-closed Cranberry restaurant.
Poros’ menu features not only Greek cuisine but dishes reflective of the other cultures around the Mediterranean, including Turkish and Moroccan.
The wine list is much broader, including bottles from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France. If you’re looking to try a nice bodied red from Greece, the Kir Yianni Yianakahori is an excellent choice.
The menu is divided into two sections: mezze (small plates) and entrees. The mezze plates are designed to be ordered and shared among guests as appetizers or a few can be ordered to create a coursed meal for one. O’Brien also offers a five-course tasting menu, which all parties at the table must order. For those with an adventurous palate, it’s a surprise every night.
Start things off with the trio of breads and dips ($12, or $5 each) that include roasted cauliflower hummus with cumin, tahini, garlic and lemon; smoky and creamy baba ghanoush topped with pomegranate seeds; and tangy tzatziki, a combination of house made yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill and mint. The trio of dips is accompanied by warm house-made pita bread and grilled Mt. Athos Fire Bread from the local bakery Mediterra Bakehouse. Probably my favorite in the city, the bread is dense and thick with an almost burnt crunchy crust. If you’ve never had it, try it dipped in the baba ghanoush. For an extra $2, you can add a platter of fresh vegetables: carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower and peppers for the dips.
The mezze menu is filled with seafood, meat and vegetarian options such as Chips Poros: stacks of crisp, fried zucchini and eggplant slices piled high and layered with the tangy tzatziki sauce.
By far, the most memorable dish I had the evening I dined was the Fig and Duck Confit Baklava: chunky pieces of tender confit duck mixed with walnuts and mission figs and tossed in a sweet burnt honey sauce. This delightful combination is plated in between two pieces of crisp filo dough and garnished with a spinach puree. Although this dish has savory duck confit, it’s a very sweet dish, just like traditional dessert baklava — a definite must-try. If you’re not into sweet dishes, it won’t be for you.
Other mezze options include rabbit moussaka, Turkish borek (sadly unavailable the night I dined), grilled octopus, ouzo-cured salmon and house-made spanakopita.
Fresh fish and shellfish are Poros’ specialty, and it’s evident from the display case of fresh seafood you see when you walk through the front door. Fresh fish is flown in daily from the Mediterranean and North Atlantic and can be ordered whole or in boneless filets by the ounce. Whole-fish options include lavraki (branzino), dorade (sea bream), dover sole and black sea bass. Filet options include ahi tuna, salmon, halibut, Chilean sea bass and lavraki. Lobster tails, scallops, wild-caught shrimp and garides (head-on prawns) are ordered by the piece and can be combined.
After you pick your seafood, you choose from two preparation methods: chargrilled with herbes de Provence, sea salt, black and pink pepper and shallot-garlic citronette (vinaigrette); or a la plancha style, seared to a crisp on a cast-iron plancha with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and a roasted garlic skordalia (puree).
Whole fish can be prepared tandoor style roasted in a clay tandoor with cumin, coriander and guadjillo chile-paste and served with garlic lime yogurt sauce. Sides are not included in these entrees, but a mezze can be ordered to accompany them.
If you are indecisive, choose from one of the three fish dishes listed under Chef Specialties,like the Crispy Skin Dorade that I had. A crabmeat stuffed filet is cooked a la plancha style and served on top of a bed of lemony mint tabouleh with a dill-and-artichoke beurre blanc and grilled rapini. The portion was just enough, the fish was crisp and flaky, and the tabouleh flavorful with lemony and sweet raisins.
Lamb, a highlight on the entree selections, comes prepared in a variety of ways. Braised lamb shoulder is included in the layered Greek pastitsio, grilled lamb chops are served with lentils, sundried tomatoes and figs, and there’s a lamb heart souvlaki. The meat is sourced from local Jamison Farm and Elysian Fields Farm, as well as farms in Colorado.
If seafood and lamb aren’t for you, other options include Tandoor Roasted Veggie Kabobs, Beef Short Rib Tagine and Cretan Roasted Chicken served on a bed of lemon ricotta with cipollini onions, roasted potatoes and okra, which was surprisingly delightful for a chicken dish.
Don’t forget about the house-made desserts, such as the Loukoumades doughnuts: fried balls of dough tossed in a honey syrup and garnished with crushed pistachios. There’s a variety of ice cream and sorbets that are made in house. The night I dined, one of the ice cream selections was Turkish coffee, which was absolutely divine — even better if you dipped a Loukoumades ball into the ice cream.
While Poros has decent food and a friendly staff, some tweeks could be made to the atmosphere, mostly the lighting. Though I sat in a lovely seat overlooking the PPG ice rink, it was also one of the darkest in the whole restaurant. Maybe it’s to set the mood, but having to use the flashlight on my phone to see my food wasn’t a turn on. Nonetheless, Poros is a great addition to busy Market Square, and, like all new restaurants, will come into its own with time.
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