Three years ago, brothers Peter and Gus Katzianis closed their long-running Greek restaurant Parthenon, near downtown Fort Worth, promising their patrons that they would someday return.
Come back they have, with the newly opened Two Brothers Bistro, an intimate Greek restaurant in north Fort Worth. Opened in August, the restaurant resides in a strip mall, but don't be fooled by the modest locale: Two Brothers serves the same high-quality, homemade food for which Parthenon was known.
It's a small space; the dining room is less than 1,200 square feet. Yet it doesn't feel cramped, thanks to high ceilings and a wall of windows that makes you feel as if you're outside. Diners sit in attractive, large booths or at spacious, ash wood tables. In the evening, lights are dimmed. It's simple yet graceful.
The same can be said of the food -- it's nothing flashy but it is well-prepared. Parthenon regulars will recognize many of the dinner entrees, including the gyro platter ($16), New Zealand lamb chops ($24) and Chilean sea bass ($26). New items include Cajun-style barbecue shrimp ($17) and stuffed red snapper ($21). Salads, pastas, soups and sandwiches round out the menu.
Dinner specials are displayed on a dessert tray, and you are given a look at them before being seated. It was an effective sales pitch: Half of our meal was made up of specials, starting with a massive Greek salad ($10), ordered as an appetizer. Sliced tomatoes, purple onion rings, hearty cucumber slices and plump kalamata olives were neatly arranged around a mound of fresh greens with a sizable pile of feta on top. The small ramekin of slightly spicy balsamic vinaigrette, served on the side, was not enough.
Other appetizers included Greek standards such as hummus, tzatziki dip and, our choice, spanakopita (all $6), which was terrific. A French puff pastry was used to hold layers of creamy chopped spinach and feta. Cut in the shape of a pie wedge and dusted with Parmesan, it didn't fall apart when cut. Another traditional Greek dish, roasted lamb shank ($16), arrived tender inside and out, with a slightly pink interior. The meat was cooked with black pepper, carrots and celery -- you could taste the nuances of each ingredient -- and it was coated in a light sherry wine demi-glace.
Shrimp Santorini ($19) featured five large shrimp in a thick tomato-based provençal sauce, with thinly sliced sauteed onions and feta. What made this dish so great was the preparation of the shrimp: First they were sauteed in butter, garlic and olive oil, then flambéd with ouzo, a Greek liqueur. Laid in the sauce, the shrimp were smoky and spicy.
Both entrees were accompanied by aromatic rice, dotted with diced yellow onions, cloves and cinnamon, and a sauteed vegetable mix of red and green bell peppers, purple onions, squash and zucchini.
Our server was personable and chatty, and knowledgeable about the menu. But she forgot to deliver our soup, and she neglected to inform us of the $1 charge for extra pita bread.
Bless her, however, for suggesting the New Orleans bread pudding ($5.50) for dessert. Pineapple chunks, raisins and pecans were inside; on top were streaks of raspberry and bourbon sauces. Other desserts included chocolate mousse cake, creme brulee and, of course, baklava.