By Fred Kane
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, Surfside Beach – One week after opening, Opa! shows promise.
Opa!, a new eatery in Surfside Beach, is owned by Asimakis and Christos Georgakopoulis, and the restaurant occupies the space that formerly housed Charleston Café at 815 Surfside Dr. Reminiscent of an old-style city tavern with window-side tables in the front, Opa! has a small bar area in the middle and booths towards the rear. The space is welcoming, bright and comfortable.
I visited on a recent Friday evening with my wife and two friends around 7 p.m.
We were seated promptly; about half of the tables were occupied. We asked our waiter about available beers, and he informed us that the beer and wine license was not in yet, although they were expecting it any day. He added we were welcome to bring our own beer or wine.
Since our friends were held up by traffic, we called and asked them to stop for supplies. While waiting for them, my wife and I ordered appetizers.
There is a nice selection of starters, and we settled on Opa Sizzling Cheese ($8.95), Olives and Feta Cheese, Spinach Triangles and Stuffed Grape Leaves (each $7.95). The appetizers were all presented with warm pita triangles and Tzatziki Sauce.
The Fried Kefalograviera Cheese was a generous slice, lightly breaded and pleasantly fried. The Olives and Feta consisted of Kalamata olives and crumbled Feta with a splash of balsamic vinegar, and both were high quality. Spinach Triangles were light and golden phyllo filled with spinach, and they proved to be a winner. The Stuffed Grape Leaves were voted our least favorite because while they were adequate, they didn’t taste like they were made in-house.
While debating entrée selections, we decided to delay our choices and three of us decided to order Avgolemono (Lemon-Chicken) Soup, and one in our party ordered a Garden Salad. The soup arrived quickly and was excellent. The steaming bowls were filled with a delicious blend of chicken stock, plenty of orzo, chicken, carrots and just enough lemon to make its presence known, but not so much as to dominate the other ingredients. We agreed we would go back just for that soup! The Garden Salad was crisp, cool and had just enough dressing to complement the ingredients.
For our entrees we ordered two Gyro Platters ($11.95), Roasted Leg of Lamb ($14.95) and Pastichio ($11.95). Entrees are served with soup or salad, and come with rice and/or vegetable, warm pita bread and Tzatziki Sauce. The Gyro Platters were offered with rice or fries, and each combination was ordered. The Lamb came with a side vegetable and potatoes, as did the Pastichio.
Our entrees were delivered pretty promptly. The Gyro Platters proved a disappointment as the shaved meat was well seasoned but dry. They were not presented as the typical Gyro, which is warm pita bread topped with shaved meat, Tzatziki sauce, chopped tomato, and Feta cheese. To be fair to Opa!, we should have asked for a clarification because in the menu’s sandwich section, Gyros are offered in the “usual” way. Opa’s Platters were simply the shaved meat served atop rice or fries.
Our friend’s Roasted Leg of Lamb proved tasty, although tough, and we all thought the overly salty side vegetable of canned baby peas and carrots was an extreme disappointment. Fresh vegetables are easy to purchase and would be more colorful, flavorful and less expensive than what were offered to us. All of the entrees were garnished with an orange slice, which was totally out of place and not needed.
I have had many Greek dishes, having shared dinner and holidays with a lifelong friend who is of Greek descent. Pastichio is one of the dishes that was always on the table at holidays, and each Mom or Grandmother who made it argued over whose was best. I have to say that Opa’s version was excellent. Pastichio is ziti pasta topped with seasoned ground beef and/or lamb and Béchamel sauce, then baked. Opa’s was light, flavorful, baked just right and topped with just enough tomato sauce. The accompanying rice was fine, but the entrée loses quality points because of the aforementioned peas.
Warm, fresh pita and Tzatziki Sauce accompanied all of the entrees and were enjoyable.
Our server, Tanner, is one of the family as his dad and uncle are the owners. His dad is in the front of the house, and his uncle mans the kitchen. Tanner did a nice job and provided great service.
Opa! has a children’s menu, and all entrees are $4.95.
On the regular menu, Appetizers and Salads run from $6.95 to $8.95 and Burgers and Wraps are offered at $7.95. Gyros, Kebobs and Sandwiches are $7.95, while Greek Specialties start from $11.95.
I have opened several new concept restaurants and know what it takes to work through those first few weeks, and I see potential for Opa. The family and staff are welcoming and friendly, and while we were there they worked hard throughout the restaurant taking care of patrons. In an area filled with chain restaurants it is a pleasure to see a family-owned, independent restaurant. In my opinion a few small fixes will reap bigger and better results.
Opa!is easy to find, just a half block off U.S. 17 Business at 815 Surfside Dr. in Surfside Beach. The phone number is (843) 808-9887, and operating hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.