Dining » Vol. 5

Belfry Restaurant

The Belfry

The Belfry

Serving a New Congregation and Doing a Fine Job
By Bernie Whitmore

Belfry Restaurant
59 Blackstone River Road, Worcester

There was a time when I thought the conversion of churches into venues used for other functions was the best idea going. But then I encountered a few and they struck me as creepy and impractical. So as I headed to the Belfry Restaurant for dinner I was ready to be unimpressed. One step inside the door and my expectations changed drastically. The old Quinsigamond Baptist Church was so tiny its congregation could have been one not-very extended family. The village must have loved this church – as depicted in the front room a major effort was required to move and save it.

The current management of The Belfry seems to honor this affection – the dining room is kept clean and polished with white lace curtains and a dozen tables spread with white linen, each with a vase of fresh white roses. The floors and woodwork are deep tones of hardwood. A smaller room has a fireplace and one large round booth.

Nicole, the waitress, showed my friend and me to a table and took our drink order (The Belfry has a full bar). Upon opening the menu, I found a normal offering of burgers and Italian/pub versions of chicken and veal plates. But what really got me excited was the Greek cuisine – something not readily available in Worcester. This was an opportunity of which we’d take full advantage.

We started with ‘The Belfry Sampler’ appetizer. One plate had quarter-rounds of Greek pita bread, buttery soft and grilled so that it had streaks of golden brown crispiness. Getting excited about bread isn’t unusual for me, but this was a full sensory experience. On one side of the plate was a scoop of tsatsiki, a dip of yogurt, diced cucumber, olive oil and garlic. It was the freshest, lightest (almost frothy) I’ve ever tasted. On the other side was a scoop of hummus, lemony-light with an unobtrusive background of garlic.

That would have been satisfying enough but the sampler also came with a serving of four dolmades – luxuriously soft grape leaves rolled around ground beef in a perfect blend of seasonings. They were served drenched in a pool of egg-lemon sauce that I continued to spoon long after the dolmades and pita were finished. Those of you who think tyou don’t like grape leaves should go to the Belfry and try these. Seriously, go right now!

souvlaki entrée

I was tempted by each of the Belfry’s Greek entrees, approximately ten classic dishes, so I enlisted Nicole’s assistance in making a choice. Unlike many restaurant staff, she appeared genuinely excited about the menu and had already raved about the pita bread. She steered me toward the souvlaki entrée – a direction in which I was most pleased to head.

My friend order mousaka, another classic Greek dish composed of layers of eggplant, ground beef, tomato and spices, such as cinnamon and allspice – the balance of flavors was so skillful that no individual taste overpowered. The layers were topped with béchamel sauce and baked ‘til deep brown and crunchy around the sides.

My souvlaki entrée had chunks of roasted cubes of pork tenderloin wrapped in pita bread with diced tomato, red onion and tsatsiki sauce. There was no skimping on the pork here, it was a challenge to keep the pieces from falling out, and they were perfectly spiced. I had no idea we could get such good Greek cuisine in Worcester!

There was also a selection of Greek desserts. We shared one I was unfamiliar with, galaktobooreko. Unlike the other variations on baklava, this one had custard. It was also much larger than expected, the size of one of those jumbo muffins and made with flaky honey-soaked pastry wrapped around thick custard.

Just as we were finishing dessert the chef came over to see if we were satisfied with our meal. I assured him that satisfied was a major understatement – we loved it from the very start to the last forkful!

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