When Gus Kosta opened his namesake eatery on a Friday night in January of 1987, he only had four customers the entire day. This was pretty discouraging for a restaurant veteran. After learning the food business in Greece, Kosta came to the United States and worked at seafood, pizza and steak restaurants here in Dallas.

But for most restaurateurs, there’s nothing quite like opening your own place and cooking your own food, even if it is a little slow out of the gate. Fortunately, Kosta kept at it and today his cozy upper Greenville avenue location is busy each day serving lunch and dinner. Unlike the many Dallas chefs determined to pioneer new cuisine, Kosta’s menu features traditional Greek dishes made from traditional Greek recipes.

Kosta explains, in his rich accent, that his philosophy is simply “fresh, good food on clean plates in a good atmosphere.” That’s a pretty plain description for this picturesque restaurant with its linen-covered tables, candles and flowers. Still, the atmosphere is relaxed, and Kosta’s upscale 35+ crowd is just as likely to be wearing blue jeans as suits.

[An interesting note: Kosta hasn’t been back to his hometown in nine years and was planning a trip this summer; unfortunately it’s only about 80 miles from the war zone in Yugoslavia and he’s uncertain about his travel plans now.]

Dolmas (the traditional recipe is featured here) are a popular choice with diners, as well as the Greek combo plate — for those that like a little taste of everything.

Dolmas in Avgolemono Sauce

Serves six

Dolmas

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1  cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup raw converted rice
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. garlic paste
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Water as needed
  • 1-pound jar Baby Orlando grape leaves
  • 3 cups hot chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine meat, onions, rice, egg, garlic paste and spices. Knead all the ingredients in a bowl, adding water one tablespoon at a time until the consistency allows the mixture to stick together.

Drain brine from jar of grape leaves and wash leaves well.  Put one heaping tablespoon of meat and rice mixture in center of leaf’s dull side and roll leaf tightly, folding edges over and rolling toward point of leaf.

Cover bottom of an un-greased Dutch oven or casserole with torn leaves to keep the dolmas from sticking.  Arrange rolls in layers.  Pour hot stock over rolls and dot with butter.  Cover with a heavy plate to keep rolls from opening as rice puffs.  Cover casserole, and cook over low heat for an hour.

There should be some liquid left in casserole for the sauce.  If dry when cooking time is up, add 1 cup water and simmer for a few minutes longer.  Remove from heat and keep covered.

Avgolemono Sauce

  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup boiling stock from dolmas
  • Salt to taste

In a saucepan, beat eggs until frothy. (For thicker sauce, stir in 1 tablespoon cornstarch while beating eggs.) Gradually add lemon juice and hot liquid, stirring constantly. Add salt to taste and simmer over very low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened. Do not allow mixture to come to a boil.

To serve, arrange dolmas on a large plate and pour over the Avgolemono sauce.


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