Bar Vlaha opened in Washington Square at the end of March, bringing the savory taste of the Greek countryside to Brookline. This is the latest concept by Xenia Greek Hospitality, the team behind Hecate, Krasi, and Greco.
“Greece is 80% mountains, you know,” says Xenia’s CEO Demetri Tsolakis. “No one knows that we’re a mountainous country. And Greek cuisine started with freshwater fish, eels, trout, frog legs. It’s a nice concept that showcases the unspoken or the unheard-of Greek food out there.“
The cozy restaurant is designed to feel like visiting Yiayia’s house for a homemade meal. Warm woods and rustic accent pieces anchor the space, and portraits of women from the Vlach region of Greece line one of the walls in the dining room. Historically the Vlach people lived a migratory, pastoral lifestyle and were known for their gracious hospitality and delicious cuisine. Tsolakis says he was researching Brookline and, upon discovering that it used to be farmland as well, knew the town was the right fit for Bar Vlaha.
“Brookline is a great, great little town,” says Tsolakis. “It’s a neighborhood spot. We wanted to do something for the locals here.” Bar Vlaha is just steps from other neighborhood favorites like Mamaleh’s Delicatessen, The Abbey, and The Washington Square Tavern.
On the menu, you’ll find traditional dishes like Agriogourouno with wild boar shoulder, patates tiganites, red wine, orange, honey, warm spices, and Kokkinisto, made with a chicken leg, tomato, cinnamon, and hilopites. The extensive menu offers a variety of dining experiences, from Greek cheeses, spreads, and salads for snacking to rich and filling comfort-food entrees.
The bar also channels regional flavors, incorporating culinary flavors like walnut, heirloom tomato, and goat’s milk into the cocktail menu. Phantom of the Opa includes house-aged tsipouro, corn whiskey, Greek forest honey, mugolio, black walnut, eucalyptus, and smoke. “In Greece, when we eat, we drink. When we drink, we eat. So let’s put both in the glass,” says Tsolakis, laughing.
Perhaps due to the success of Xenia’s other outposts, reservations for Bar Vlaha’s first two weeks were booked up immediately. Tsolakis says they’ll dispense reservations every few weeks rather than all at once to give as many people as possible a chance to book.
“I always ask the question, is it too much Greek?” says Tsolakis. “Never. It’s just nice to see that people are so open to trying different things of the Greek world.“