Santorini Cafe opened earlier this year in an out-of-the way section of North Lamar. I recently went there on a Friday night with a large group, and although the food was excellent when it finally arrived, the cafe was dangerously understaffed and the service was both slow and inconsistent.
One of the first things you notice when you walk in the door at Santorini is the decor, which is comfortable and understated. There are small cafe tables throughout as well as several seating areas with couches and chairs. I was with a group of eight or nine people, so we took up residence in one of the areas with couches. It made for a bit of an odd seating arrangement, however, with some members seated at tables and others on couches. When my food came I ended up moving to a table off to the side so that I would have somewhere to put my plate.
Santorini's menu is composed of standard Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, and they also offer a decent selection of wine. We started with appetizer plates that included various cheeses, hummus, dolmathes, olives and more. I ordered the lamb plate, which comes with lamb, hummus, dolmathes, tzatziki and a side salad. Members of my group tried the lamb gyro - which was generously sized - greek salads and pizza. All of the food was excellent, but we were starving by the time it arrived because Santorini simply was not ready for a Friday night crowd.
We weren't the only large group to arrive that evening, but the other group quickly left when they realized that the bartender was the only person working in the cafe and he could barely handle getting orders as it was. One of the members of my group actually took it upon himself to write down our orders on a napkin and take it to the bar, and that napkin served as our tab for the rest of the night. Partway through the evening a second person arrived and began helping out in the kitchen, and shortly afterwards food began arriving at our table.
Ultimately I definitely wouldn't recommend Santorini for large groups. The food was good, and I'm glad to have another Greek/Mediterranean option in Austin, but the service required a lot of patience and I'm not sure it's worth the wait. Check back once they've had more time to establish themselves.
Originally published at Austin.com