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Mystery Diner: Limani gives St. Charles its own ‘Port of Greece’

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A server at Limani Port of Greece flambés Saganaki – a traditional Greek appetizer. (Shaw Media photo)
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The Combo Shrimp and Scallops at Limani Port of Greece restaurant comes with a side of vegetables and rice with a generous layering of cinnamon brown sauce. (Shaw Media photo)

ST. CHARLES – For a taste of the Mediterranean; an open, inviting atmosphere; and impeccable service, head to Limani Port of Greece restaurant in St. Charles.

The Greek eatery that sits at 3755 E. Main St. in St. Charles has changed ownership since its former days as Odyssey – also a Greek restaurant – and opened as Limani’s in May.

Offering a healthy menu of classic Greek fare, Limani’s has a rustic bar area that shakes up cocktails and pours the vintages of international Greek wines, such as Estrella varietals and Grande Reserve Naoussa Boutanri.

Venturing into the restaurant on a Monday for lunch, the moment we stepped foot through the doors, our waiter appeared with a vibrant smile and friendly “hello,” while offering us a booth near the rear of the restaurant.

High ceilings with exposed duct-work; a painted mural of the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding countries; decorative white pillars synonymous with Greek classicism; and a rustic, stone fireplace welcomed us into the open and airy space.

Our waiter was superb – engaging, helpful, friendly – and just an overall nice guy who did his job extraordinarily well.

After placing drink orders, he fit our table with a basket of warm bread and garlic butter. We ordered the Saganaki from the dinner menu, which came highly recommended by our waiter.

Once he flambéed our Saganaki ($6.25) table side, it wasn’t long before the flame dissipated that we started plunging morsels of bread into a pan of imported Greek cheese submerged in a delicate layer of brandy.

Limani’s serves an “Express Lunch” menu that caters to the corporate crowd from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. It includes a complimentary soup or salad (for an extra $2) with anything ordered on the lunch menu.

The three-page dinner menu also is available at lunch, and it includes a kids menu, hot and cold appetizers, fresh fish, Greek pastas, traditional Greek cuisine, family-style dining options and combination platters.

For $8.99, patrons can order sandwich-style items, such as the classic Gyros Wrap with sliced gyros, chicken or pork souvlaki and served with onions, lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce and wrapped in warm pita bread.

To make things slightly less predictable, we opted to order menu-items not so ubiquitous among Greek eateries (no gyros this time).

I ordered the Combo Shrimp and Scallops ($12.95), which came with an added infusion of garlic on request. The dish came with a side of green beans and rice with a generous layering of brown sauce with hints of cinnamon that added another level of flavor to the components of the dish. The scallops could have used a better sear, but the robust shrimp were cooked to perfection.

The sprinkling of parsley across the stark-white plate – a slightly antiquated way of garnishing a dish – may be a sign that the menu items are more traditional than contemporary.

My dining companion opted for the Grilled Sea Bass Salad ($11.95), a colorful array of lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, olives, cucumbers and feta cheese fit with a filet of sea bass.

It “was a healthy option with a lot of flavor,” my dining companion mentioned.

Stuffed to the brim, my dining companion and I reluctantly passed on Limani’s homemade dessert; something that we won’t be able to pass up on our next visit.

The classic Mediterranean fare, exquisite service and amiable atmosphere will undoubtedly make for a memorable experience at St. Charles’ own “Port of Greece.”

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.

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