It's All GRK
It's All GRK is the newly opened gyro shop situated on Queen West in the former home of Bellwood Bar & Grill. Co-owners Nick Freda (Valdez), Matty Tzoumaris (Valdez, The One That Got Away) and Nathan Godin wanted to update the hallmark format of the greasy spoon Greek joint that peaked in the '90s on the Danforth and has since seen little improvement.
This Greek joint is more palatable for a number of reasons, beginning with the contemporary decor designed by Ian Rydberg of SOLID Design & Build, whose recent works also include La Carnita, Home of the Brave and Valdez. There two rows of communal high-top tables surrounded by blue and white stools, the walls display imported products and personal relics from Tzoumaris' family olive farm where he spent his summers in Greece.
Order at the counter off the black board menu from four types of meat in one of four formats. There's pork, chicken, beefteki (similar to a a burger patty) and souvlaki available as a pita-wrapped gyro, an open-faced piato, a rice an potato packed dinner platter, or, with a horiatiki (village) salad.
In the kitchen, they've snagged ex-Marben chef, Greg Welch who carries over the ingrained focus on fresh, quality ingredients and made-from-scratch mentality. Rest assured that there is no dubious mixed-meat gyro here. The rotisserie spits are built daily by hand from top quality meats and then marinated overnight before being broiled from fresh each day.
On the spits today are pork and chicken. The pork layers alternating cuts of belly, shoulder, ham and neck that caramelizes as it turns towards the heat. The chicken is composed mainly of white meat (from grain fed, antibiotic free poultry of course), it's ribboned with dark meat for maximum flavour and moistness but minimum fat.
The gyros are excellent, I tried both the pork ($7) and chicken ($8) topped with house-made tzakiki (yiayia's recipe) and perfectly ripe, chunks of tomato, cucumber and fries, really good fries. On the side we try out the GRK fries ($4.50) too, sprinkled with feta and oregano.
If you order the souvlaki sticks à la carte ($3.75) it comes with a little complimentary side of GRK fries. The skewered nuggets of chicken are browned lightly on each side and are perfectly plump and juicy.
The village salad ($7/$9) is composed in thoughtful proportions: a square slab of feta sits over chunky, chopped Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, and slivers of red onion. This isn't just some chintzy, filler side salad, it's really excellent -- it makes Greek food for me, a viable daily option not just reserved for late-night post bar binges.
Vegetarians can expect additional options to be introduced like lentil soups, vegetarian gyros and Piperies Gemistes (stuffed peppers). To drink, there are imported Greek sodas and spring water. For the opening, they're offering complimentary baklava.
It's All GRK is open daily from 11am to10am. Delivery is coming!
Photos by Jesse Milns