My Greek Plate
Tucked away on a cozy side street is a favourite local restaurant. Out front is a large patio, with billowing white fabric sails offering shade for sunny days. Guests surround small tables, sipping crisp white wine, and nibbling on a cornucopia of mezes (Greek appetizers). Choose from familiar dishes like tzatziki and calamari, and new delights like keftedes (a flavourful meatball in tomato sauce) and saganaki (a mouth-watering flaming fried cheese). You might imagine this scene takes place in a sunny Greek vacation spot, but in fact, this is My Greek Plate – Cochrane’s very own authentic Greek restaurant.
Owner Yiannis Thalassinos and head chef Nikolaos Kontogiannis hail from the storied Greek island of Mykonos. A place where fisherman deliver the mornings catch straight to your doorstep, and sun-kissed ripe vegetables abound. After working at a five-star resort in Greece, the cousins found their way to Alberta in 2016 when they purchased My Greek Plate, sight unseen, with a dream to serve authentic Greek food with a side of warm hospitality.
The sea affects how the food tastes…
The duo is committed to using as many local ingredients as possible, tied together with some imports straight from Greece. Nico spent months tasting local ingredients and learning how to work with them. Greek cooking focuses on simple recipes with exceptional ingredients. Chef Nico shares, “The sea affects how the food tastes.” That meant months of tweaking the local fare to represent his Greek recipes. The cousins don’t use any butter in the restaurant and import olive oil & sea salt straight from Greece. The dishes are full of fresh herbs, grown in their own herb garden in the summer. Twice a week Yiannis and Nico scour local markets to find the best tomatoes, and Nico spent almost a year finding just the right farmer to supply lamb for his melt off the bone lamb shank dish.
World Class Hospitality
If you ask a regular customer about My Greek Plate, they’ll rave about the delicious food, but they’ll also tell you about Yiannis’ world class hospitality. Upon arrival expect a warm, genuine welcome. Those newer to Greek cuisine shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, Yiannis is always ready to explain the dishes, and won’t hesitate to share what’s tasting best that night. My Greek Plate exemplifies the charm of a small town – you might arrive as a stranger, but you’ll leave feeling like family.
Anyone visiting can feel (and taste) the passion Yiannis and Nico have for food and hospitality. So, if you are suffering from the winter doldrums, or want to enjoy a patio on a glorious blue-bird day, be sure to find your way to My Greek Plate – it’s a mini vacation right in the heart of downtown Cochrane.
Callandra Caufield – Guest Journalist
Jacquie Matechuk – Photographer