If you’re looking for My Big Fat Greek Restaurant Experience, you might try that place on Burnside instead; Eleni’s offers no fermeli -vested waiters yelling “Hopa!,” no blaring bouzouki or mandatory dancing, and if you smash your plate they’ll probably make you pay for it. But Eleni Touhouliotis’ Estiatorio (the cozy Sellwood bistro) and Philoxenia (the westside offshoot, with a spartan chic more befitting the Pearl) trade the broad shtick for a Cretan specificity, bringing a light touch and range of flavor to a cuisine that’s too often reduced to an ouzo sponge. Standbys such as dolmathakia and lamb skewers are bright and interesting here, but be sure to try house specialties like the filo-feta puff kalitsounia , which comes both sweet (mint-honey) and savory (spinach and olive oil). The trusty roasted eggplant is offered with three different stuffings; the Painted Hills beef version melitzanes papoutzakia , baked in a cinnamon-clove tomato sauce and topped with feta, is delicate yet homey and satisfying. Eleni’s deal-sealer, though, is manitaria me skortho , a tongue-tingling sauté of wild mushrooms and pancetta over orzo that bridges the Northwest woods and the wine-dark Mediterranean. (IG)
Signature Dish: Manitaria me skortho made Minoans out of us.
Standouts: Here you’d rather lick your plate than break it.
Regrets: Sometimes the kitchen’s touch is too light, as in a beet salad special that could’ve used a little bouzouki jazz.