Food & Drink

Review: Xenia in Columbia Takes Diners on a Greek Odyssey

Follow the blue glow to embark on on a taste tour of the isles.
Shrimp Santorini at Xenia. —Photography by Justin Tsucalas

As you turn a corner in a nondescript business park in Columbia, a blue glow, as mesmerizing as the Aegean Sea, emanating from one of the buildings will take you by surprise. The lighting, a reflection of the marine-colored furnishings inside, leads to Xenia Greek Kouzina.

If you’ve been to Ouzo Bay in Harbor East, Xenia will seem familiar, with its luxurious décor and attention to detail, from the hand-blown-glass light fixture rippling across the dining room to the murals of Greece. It’s no surprise that Xenia owner George Aligeorgas was a founding partner of the Baltimore restaurant, especially when you spy a display case showcasing whole fish chilling on crushed ice. Aligeorgas, who opened Xenia in 2019, was stunned by the pandemic in 2020, but he bounced back to business this year alongside his longtime chef, Akis Anagnostouakis, who also worked at Ouzo Bay. Their menu focuses on Greek fare and seafood.

A must-have starter is the flaming cheese saganaki. A server douses graviera cheese (like Gruyère, our waiter said) with rum, then sets the works afire. It’s served with warm pita triangles dusted with herbs. It’s not just for show. The cheese sparks an explosion of nutty and sweet flavors in your mouth. Another appetizer, the grape leaves “dolmadakia,” is a satisfying rendition of the classic dish, with ground lamb, ground beef, and rice wrapped, papoose-like, with the leaves. A thick avgolemono sauce gives it a creamy verve.

The fish selection varies, but we were pleased that Chesapeake rockfish was available in a piscatorial lineup that included dorade royale, branzino, and Kona Kampachi. Once you’ve made your selection, the kitchen works its magic, grilling the whole fish stuffed with lemon and herbs, deboning it but leaving the head and tail for presentation, drizzling the moist meat with a lemon-infused sauce, and dressing the masterpiece with capers and herbs. It was a wonderful taste of our local bounty.

Another stellar dish is the roasted chicken. A bronzed half bird was draped over a nest of roasted potatoes that soaked up the chicken’s juices. We also dug into a moussaka, the classic Greek casserole starring eggplant. Xenia’s rendition is terrific, with layers of the main ingredient stacked with zucchini, potatoes, and braised veal in a béchamel sauce.

The restaurant’s baklava proved a fitting ending to our meal. That’s not the end of the sweetness, though. Each table receives a complimentary dish of doughnut balls glazed with honey and splashed with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

As you leave the restaurant, that blue light guides you to your car, promising another great meal in the future.

The Scoop

XENIA GREEK KOUZINA, 8850 Columbia 100 Pkwy., 410-740-2500. HOURS: Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. DINNER PRICES: Appetizers: $16-24; entrees: $29-48 (whole fish, market price); desserts: $8.