Good BYOB joints are few and far between, and at Gus and Peter Katzianis' relatively new Two Brothers Bistro, the food is likable and eclectic. It's almost as if they picked up their former much-beloved Parthenon Greek Restaurant and plopped it down in a strip center in north Fort Worth.
On a recent early weekend evening, Peter greeted us at the door. He eagerly showed my companion and me a table with samples of dolmades, lamb chops, a Greek salad and chicken kebabs, and helpfully explained some of the more traditional items.
"These are dolmades," he said, pointing to the stuffed grape leaves. I nodded my head in recognition.
"Oh! You are Greek?" he asked.
No, I answered, just familiar with the food.
Unfortunately, there's a little bit of this going on at Two Brothers. Over the course of our visit, the owners and wait staff repeatedly seemed surprised that we had eaten Greek food before.
Thanks to the recent entree of Chadra Mezza & Grill and Terra Mediterranean Grill, Fort Worth diners in the know know this food. Even prior, Hedary's Mediterranean Restaurant and little George's Specialty Foods had been educating the local masses. Let's face it: This food is hardly Greek to anyone around here anymore.
We started with the flaming cheese ($8). When we asked what kind of cheese is used, the response from our server was a vague "Greek goat cheese." Even when we asked brother Gus, he was reluctant to share. Finally, we got it out of him. Kefalograviera, he said. Both my companion and I have heard of the salty sheep's milk cheese.
I flashed on Jack Nicholson's famous line from A Few Good Men: You can't handle the ... cheese!
But it turns out we could handle this cheese. A crispy crust had formed from when Peter lit it aflame. Served with good pita wedges, we mopped up every bit of it. A side of tzatziki sauce ($1) was just a small scoop of the yogurt-based dip, but it was also the real deal: creamy, garlicky and studded with cucumber.
The meal continued its roller-coaster ride with a cup of the cream of artichoke and spinach soup, which was lacking some much-needed cheese. The soup hardly merited its creamy descriptor, but the large chunks of artichoke and pieces of spinach were a nice touch. My companion's entree-accompanying salad was a featureless display of greens and balsamic dressing. A good dusting of feta cheese would have greatly enhanced the proceedings.
But the arrival of our main courses nearly wiped the slate clean. My shrimp Santorini ($19), a mix of broiled shrimp topped with an ouzo (a Greek liquor) and creamy, tomatoey sauce was nicely executed, a mash-up of Cajun and Greek ingredients. With good yellow rice and a well-cooked mixed-vegetable medley, the serving was generous, if a little pricey. My companion's New Zealand double lamb chops ($24) were cooked to her medium-rare liking. The small chops were perfectly seasoned and proved to be the star of the evening.
The menu skews Cajun with a number of dishes, like crab cakes and étouffée. It's curious because the two cuisines seem to contradict more than complement. Cajun and Creole sauces and preparations are often complex and heavy, and the best Mediterranean dishes are the simplest.
The brothers Katzianis cast a wide net with their menu, but judging from the pleased diners on our visit, it seems to be working. (It also helps when you can bring your own beer or bottle of wine to enjoy the festivities; a liquor license is pending.) After our experience at Two Brothers, I would say the brothers clearly know their way around the kitchen but may need a little help in the dining room.