Gus and Guido thrive in the warm downtown of Ayr after moving from Brantford

Gus and Guido’s Backyard in downtown Ayr, a place that serves mainly Greek and Italian food, and just a 10-minute drive from my neighboring village, seemed to be the perfect time to anticipate salty olives and crumbly feta in my future.

As sometimes as parents, our childcare plans failed, so my husband, Bryce, and I found ourselves with two additional dinner buddies—our six and ten-year-olds. The restaurant kindly accommodated a last minute reservation change.

Gus and Guido’s Backyard features a cute patio and interior design with a casual yet upscale feel and an open kitchen.

Experienced owner and chef Steve Psarudis named the restaurant after his father, Gus, who is also a chef, and his father’s Italian friend, Guido.

“I like to call this fine European comfort food,” says Psarudis. We always buy fresh meat, fresh vegetables and local beer. We get fresh stock twice a week and everything is made in-house. Desserts like cheesecake and baklava – whatever we feel, it’s all made here.”

Having operated a much larger restaurant of the same name in Brantford since 2009, Psaroudis closed that location five years ago and then opened the cozy 40-seat Ayr location in early 2020.

Our server was friendly and helpful, explaining how the menu changes daily. Meat dishes ran high on the menu that evening, including two types of ribs, lamb chops, roast beef, and steak.

She emphasized that we had a unique experience, encouraged to carry on with our meal and that the kitchen took creative liberties in serving the side dishes of the day in stacked portions. A little of this, a little of that, maybe a little more.

We sipped our drinks – Red Sangria ($12) filled with grapes, oranges, and strawberries for me and a Pineapple Rum Punch ($12) for my husband, which I love and polished quickly.

Our appetizer arrived with plenty of zest and flair—the Saganaki Flambé ($20), a salty, seared Greek cheese dipped in liquor and ignited, then dipped in a generous squeeze of lemon. A sight for all diners, making for a lively experience. We put sticky cheese on the pita bread as we appreciated the lively atmosphere of the restaurant.

Due to an order glitch we waited a while for the main appetizers to arrive. Our server kindly brought our boys extra drinks and a free Red Sangria, knowing that our wait was longer than usual.

When our dinner showed up, our boys dipped in Chicken Parmesan ($25), two lightly breaded chicken breasts on a bed of linguine noodles, topped with a steaming marinara sauce, and served with a Caesar salad. Fresh ingredients and simple preparation make this meal so delicious.

I asked Psaroudis how he chooses his menu, which is posted daily on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “We specialize in Greek and Italian dishes, but I get out of the house, I make Spanish, Jamaican, Indian, all sorts of things,” says Psaroudis. Customers love moussaka, pistizio (a baked Greek pasta dish made with beef and lamb covered in a béchamel sauce) and beef ribs from Flintstones.”

I chose another of their most famous dishes, Chicken Souvlaki ($20), two skewers of grilled chicken served with roast potatoes, rice, Greek salad, and a serving of homemade tzatziki. The chicken was very tasty and enriched with the addition of tangy tzatziki and garlic. The salad was well dressed and garnished with feta cheese and black olives which I was looking forward to. I was happy with the crunchy fries…you guessed it…delicious tzatziki too.

My husband’s New York Steak Dinner ($40) came with the same accompaniments as my souvlaki. Was hoping to get some hot veggies and mashed potatoes which we saw headed to other tables earlier, so was a little disappointed. We could see that the kitchen was getting ready to close in the evening and many items had been sold out. Really busy night.

As we were leaving, our server sent us home with a complimentary dessert – slices of decadent cheesecake – another thoughtful gesture to acknowledge our wait time. Customers kept pouring in, seated at the bar and drinks tables.

There was definitely a festive atmosphere and many shouts of “Hello, Chef Steve!” As Psaroudis makes his way through the restaurant, he cheerfully greets the guests. “It’s a beautiful place. People have followed me here from Brantford – they are great clients,” he said.

I’ll be sure to say hello to Chef Steve next time I’m there too.

Dining columns focus on the food available for pick-up, take-out and delivery in the Waterloo area, as well as dining in restaurants. They are based on undisclosed orders or visits to facilities. Restaurants do not pay for any portion of a reviewer’s meal. Anjana Kipfer can be reached on Twitter at @AnjanaKipfer.

Gus and Guido backyard

32 Stanley Air St

There is no site

Facebook: facebook.com/GandGBackyard (list posted here daily)

519-394-2232

hours: Wednesday to Sunday: 4 to 9 p.m. While these are the official hours posted online, the restaurant often remains open at a later time.

Pay: All models are accepted

get your food: Eat in and eat out is available. Reservations are highly encouraged as it gets crowded most nights.

Bill: $117.52 (incl. tax but not tip) for one appetizer, two mains, and two cocktails. Note that children’s food and drinks are not included as part of this bill, nor are complimentary cocktails and desserts.

Notes: The restaurant is not accessible, as there are steps up to the main entrance and into the bathrooms. Free parking is available in the downtown area.

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