Tom and I are celebrating five amazing years together today, which means we’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing. Last night, we enjoyed a romantic dinner at Nostos, the scene of some of our earliest dating endeavors.
Nostos is located right next to my old office in Tyson’s Corner, where I first met Tom back in 2011.
I had just moved to the area from Oklahoma and had sworn off guys “for at least a year”. Unfortunately for that plan, I showed up to work my first day and sat down next to my very handsome future husband.
We didn’t talk much at first, we were both shy and Tom had a strict no-dating-of-coworkers policy, but over time we grew to be friends. Not surprisingly, we initially bonded over food after I mentioned a craving for jambalaya and he provided a delicious recommendation nearby. After that, we would hang out often with a group of coworkers after work, but I was still very much in single woman mode and he was living a glamorous bachelor lifestyle that in his telling of it involved a lot of golf and Doritos.
After a couple months of casual friendship, a large group of my work friends went to dinner. I will admit, Tom was particularly charming that night and perhaps there was a mild flirtation building, but I didn’t pay it much attention. The next day at work, however, my friends kept asking me what was going on with Tom. Nothing was going on, nothing at all, I assured them.
But back at my cube, I actually thought about it, sneaking furtive glances at him over my shoulder. He was definitely cute. And nice. So nice. And funny. And he had good taste in food and liked college football as much a I did. I honestly couldn’t remember why it was that I didn’t want to date him. You could say it was something of a love epiphany.
Okay maybe not love quite yet, but things got moving pretty quickly after that. We kept it all a secret at first, since workplace romance can be tricky, but we started spending most of our time together. Which brings me back to Nostos…
Shortly after we started dating, DC was hit with a big earthquake that set off the fire sprinkler system in our office, causing a flood and an early release from work. We all went over to Nostos for drinks, which had just recently opened its doors and eventually became our favorite spot for lunch or a happy hour drink.
Tom and I were still a secret at that point, but my friend Unmani snapped these photos that kind of gave us away. Clearly, I had the googly eyes for this guy.
And the rest, as they say, is history. We eventually disclosed our relationship to HR and later both left the company for greener pastures. We moved out of Ballston, got our first apartment together in DC and began building the life we love so much now. Over time, all of those initial date spots faded from our memories. Except for Nostos, with its fresh and authentic Greek food (or authentic enough to me, as a non-Greek person – my sister-in-law is likely to weigh in on its true authenticity) that I’ve often found myself craving over the years.
We had to do some shopping at the Tyson’s mall last night, so it was the perfect opportunity to return to our old stomping grounds for a date night.
We haven’t aged a bit… right? (Those glasses of wine were excellent by the way. I know next to nothing about Greek wine, but the staff will point you toward the right choice based on what you typically enjoy.)
I had no idea if the food at Nostos would be as good as I remembered, but felt quickly assured after sampling the addicting bread basket.
The warm olive and feta focaccia served with a yogurt dill dip was out of this world. This was not on offer back in 2011, but it is a very welcome improvement.
We chose to skip the pricier mains and order mezedes, or Greek small plates, starting with pantzaria fournou, a gorgeous salad of marinated beets, arugula, kefalograviera cheese, fresh mint and almonds.
These luscious sliced beets were absolutely the best I’ve ever had, their sweetness a perfect match for the salty cheese and fresh herbs.
Greek cheese is a thing of beauty, so we had to make sure to get our fill. While all of the cheese mezedes looked incredible, we chose the haloumi skoras, grilled cypriot sheep and goat cheese served with Greek-style taboule.
The cheese was perfectly charred and delightfully squeaky, its richness balanced nicely by the tangy taboule. Realizing at this point that the term “small plates” is not necessarily taken literally at Nostos, we opted to save half of this for later as we forged on.
The most interesting of the dishes we ordered, as far as flavor profile, was the bakaliarakia me skordalia – fresh fried cod bites served with a potato garlic purée and marinated beets.
My taste buds were a bit confused, but not in a bad way. These beets were much more tart than those in the salad, lending the right amount of acidity and brightness to an otherwise ordinary combination of fried fish and potatoes. I didn’t love this as much as the previous two dishes, but was still very impressed by the execution.
By the time our hirino souvlaki, or pork tenderloin skewers, arrived at the table I was stuffed and ready to tap out.
The meat’s minimal seasoning was perfect, but some of the pieces were slightly overcooked. I donated my skewer to Tom in order to save room for a few bites of Greek cheesecake, made with Greek yogurt, manouri and feta topped with homemade spoon sweets.
This was out-of-this-world, manna-from-heaven good. And so different from any other cheesecake I’ve ever had. I now want all of my cheesecake to have feta in it, for the rest of my days. We saved most of it to have for dessert tonight, which seems so very far away right now.
Many things in my life have changed over the last five years, but the important things remain the same: I’m still googly-eyed over that boy, still obsessed with food and Nostos is every bit as delicious as I remembered.