Hydra Estiatorio & Bar, the newest Mediterranean restaurant, just opened its door for dinner time last week. Its grand opening will be on June 6, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant is located in the Exchange Hotel in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Few days ago, I was invited to its media preview, and I was surprised to find this quaint yet lively restaurant on a bustling street.
The private dining rooms has a 20-seat long table and comfortable cabanas on the side. The Mediterranean decor makes me feel relaxed and calm. It is best to sit at the cabana and sip on a crafted cocktail, like the Mediterrani.
Our meal starts with 6 spreads with house-made pita. Each spread is available as individual order. This sample size of the spread is for media purposes only.
- Melitzana – grilled eggplant, with hints of garlic, olive oil, and lemon
- Xtipiti – spicy feta cheese spread with hints of green chilli, chilli flakes, extra virgin oil, and lemon
- Tarama – salted fish roe mixed with olive oil, lemon, and a smooth potato base
- Fava – yellow split peas base blended with olive oil and charred onions. Topped with capers and sun-dried tomatoes
- Tzatziki – Greek yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic, salt, and olive oil
- Menta – feta cheese blended with mint and lemon
My favourite spread is the Tarama. The potato based spread with the salted fish roe tastes best with the pita, as the spread can be spread smoothly on the pita, and you can taste the hint of salt from the fish roe in every bite. I also enjoy the Melitzana, a traditional spread that uses grilled eggplant – simple but delicious dip for the bread. If you are looking for a refreshing one for the summer, go for the Menta spread. The minty flavor gives an interesting combo with the pita.
Cheese Saganaki is a traditional appetizer, made with Greek cheese, Kefalograviera. The cheese is pan-seared on a cast iron, which makes a nice golden crust and almost-melted inside. The lemon juice can ease its heaviness.
Greek-style Grilled Octopus is made with baby octopus, seasoned with oregano olive oil and lemon and paired with fava bean purée. It is charred outside and tender inside. The charred crust adds a hint of bitterness, but I would’ve preferred a stronger acidic taste from more lemon juice.
Hydra Special is another of my favourite. Deep-fried paper thin zucchini and eggplant pairs with tzatziki. This is just like a dream of mine – eating deep-fried food “healthily”. I would even add some paprika or spice to add heat to this appetizer, but I still highly recommend it.
Hydra serves 3 salads, Tomato Salad, Green Salad, and Organic Heirloom Beets. Each has a different taste profile to satisfy customers’ diverse taste buds.
Tomato Salad is the most refreshing one, which makes it best for the summer.
Green Salad is simple and subtle, as it is comprised of hearts of romaine, scallions, dill, and Hydra vinaigrette. I would prefer adding some lemon juice for a more popping flavor, but it is also best for people who prefer a light appetizer.
Organic Heirloom Beets is a special one that you won’t see often in restaurants. It is also my favourite of the three. The combination of squash and heirloom beets, with red wine vinegar and olive oil is surprisingly delicious. It is light with a touch of sweetness.
Hydra is also know family style sharing plates, such as the Whole Fish in Sea Salt and Grilled Whole Fish. Guests can choose the fish displayed at the Raw Bar, with the choice of oven-baked or grilled.
We tried the oven-baked sea bream. This fish is covered with sea salt and herbs, before putting in the oven. The flavor is seared with a touch of salt, and the fish is cooked perfectly. It is different than the Chinese-style steamed fish that I am used to, but it is an unique experience.
Other platters include Whole Forno Roasted Chicken and Forno Roasted Whole Leg of Lamb. As always, I prefer the lamb over the chicken, because it is tender and cooked perfectly. The roasted chicken is slightly over cooked in some parts. The sauce and secret seasoning on the side definitely add much flavor to the meat. Each platter is served with Greek fried potatoes and sautéed greens.
I am amazed by the Lobster Pasta, served with the whole lobster. The lobster claw is the size of my hand, The fresh pasta is mixed with tomato, lobster sauce, and ouzo. The portion is quite big, which I recommend to share with a group of 4.
Our dinner ends with authentic Greek dessert, Bougatsa. In Greece, it is known as a breakfast pastry that consists of semolina custard and topped with caramel-chocolate ganache and cinnamon icing sugar. The phyllo is thin and crispy, and it is not overly sweet. It is a dessert/snack that one can easily get addicted to.
Lastly, chef also prepares a dessert platter that showcases samples of the dessert menu. My favourite on the platter is Cream of the Crop, a lemon custard stuffed meringue, served with praline sponge and mandarin & blood orange caramel on the side. Don’t forget to enjoy the meringue with the caramel, as it tastes surprisingly delicious and adds a touch of bitterness from the slightly burnt sugar.
If you are not in a rush or still have room in your stomach, order a cup of Greek Coffee. I prefer adding raw sugar in mine, but the coffee has a smooth taste. Though it is served in a tiny cup, our waitress also recommends to enjoy it slowly, as opposed to drink it as a shot. I would definitely come back for another cup.
Vancouver doesn’t have much good and authentic Mediterranean restaurant, and I am happy to see Hydra Estiatorio & Bar serving such high-quality Mediterranean food in downtown Vancouver. The ambiance is gorgeous and relaxing, which is a perfect spot to chill after a long working day. I recommend getting the Tarama spread to start, following with the Lamb Leg or the Lamb Chops (if you have a small group). The Kefalograviera and Hydra Special are another must-order. To end the meal, go for the Bougatsa as dessert or just a cup of Greek Coffee to clean the palette.
Taste : 4/5 • Service: N/A • Ambiance: 5/5 • Quality-Price: N/A
|Hydra Estiatorio & Bar | Instagram | Facebook|
|Address: 825 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 1K7|
Breakfast: Mon-Sun (7 am to 10 am)
Lunch: Mon-Fri (11 am to 3 pm)
Dinner: Mon-Sun (5 pm to 11 pm)
Mon-Sun: 6:30 am to 2:30 pm
Mon-Sun: 3 pm to LATE
Disclosure: Media Event