THE leases in gleaming Citibank Tower are all taken now. And so were nearly all the tables at Faces on a recent, rainy afternoon. For the building and the restaurant, total occupancy was not always the case. Faces opened in October 1992. Life started as a roller-coaster ride, and this one had more downs than ups, not to mention a hell of a whip-lash. The ink was barely dry on the menus when partners Raymond Smith and chef Walter Gloor were hit with the liquor licence migraine. In a spanking new commercial building, barely a third full, no beer/ no wine/no drinks was the brass-knuckle handshake. But Smith and Gloor hung in and the 80-seat restaurant managed a sad smile for a long time. By word-of-mouth, proximity of a captive audience, and a financially-draining ad campaign, Faces attracted a few loyalists. And happy hour in the cosy, wood-panelled bar with the spectacular view was never dour. As the building's tenant roster grew, the menu found its footing. And so did the owners. Much of the survival instinct comes from the steady hand of Gloor and Smith. The alumni of the Jimmy's Kitchen Group (Smith, a former chef, worked at Jimmy's Kitchen in Central, and Gloor, at JK's on the Peak) both believe in hands-on management. Though Smith's niche is front of the house, he isn't against picking up a saucepan or setting a table. Several months ago (when panic hit the dining room as all tables filled within 20 minutes), Smith was speeding out of control, topping off water glasses, passing menus, delivering breadbaskets and shaking hands. While some might question such a management approach, none of the customers starved for acknowledgement. When Gloor does anything Swiss (his homeland), it's worth trying. At a Swiss promotion last autumn, he bucked the temptation to show off every canton's cuisine, and introduced only a few dishes. Instead of doing the fondue marathon (seafood, meat, white chocolate, milk chocolate) he showcased one classic cheese fondue. And it was perfection. And the national flag hanging in the dining room, about the size of Luzern, was ample salute to the country as well. The restaurant has a first-name-basis friendliness. The dining room is bright, even in the evening, but dining in the bar-room is great fun. The solo diner can have a decent-sized two-top table with the most comfortable, slouch-proof chair. Kudos to the furniture designer who understands the human anatomy. The table height agreed with the elbows, my heels had rungs at various levels, and there was plenty of room on the table for a book. For the lunch brigade in a hurry, several places are pre-set at the bar with cloth place-mats. A newly instituted help-yourself curry buffet ($80 per head), features Indian and Thai curries, rice, fresh naan, condiments and a half-pint of beer. Faces over time has shown a welcome maturity. The menu is less ambitious and shows a balance between heavy and rich and light. A very good Weiner schnitzel can exist with a designer entree salad. Though the non-meat-eater has many choices, some, like the vegetable lasagne, has the kind of cheese/white sauce richness that is a nightmare to anyone keeping the fat intake at bay. Ask, before you order. The current promotion of Greek food and wine is reason enough to visit or get acquainted. Though Greek salad has been a fixture feature that deserves raves, the variety of cold and hot appetisers could suffice for dinner. Greek food is lusty and coarse-textured, like the country's landscape. It didn't translate to the dolmades (thumb-sized stuffed grape leaves) or spinach and cheese pie. The taste and flavour of the vine leaves couldn't be faulted. But the filling of meat and rice begged for coarseness, not a tryst with a food processor or an over-active chef's knife. There was plenty of texture in the cracked wheat salad (tabouleh), the classic Greek salad, the sliced beef rolled with eggplant and stuffed with nuts, raisins and cinnamon. But two appetisers stumbled, but not fatally. The filo-wrapped triangles of spinach-cheese pie (three to an order) were perfectly crisp. But the pale colour needed a longer stay in the oven. The filling might delight those who go for smooth, soft and bland. A handful of fresh dill, more parsley and onion would be a welcome addition. The simple green salad that accompanies the entrees was terrific. The greens were fresher than fresh and the vinaigrette, puckery as hell. The spicy spetzofai (lamb sausage) with creamy lentils and cous-cous was near perfect. The flavour of the sausages was so assertive and rugged, it needed, and got, relief in the neutral tastes and textures of the buttery cous-cous and lush, rich lentils. The portion was more than substantial. A glass of Nemeha (a big, strong red from Greece) met its match. With eyes bigger than the stomach, dessert was out of the question. The poached pear with almonds sounded too tame. So did the karidopitta (walnut sponge in a coffee-Bavarian cream). Faces keeps evolving and the diner is assured of a good bread basket, a menu that can be expensive or inexpensive, a well-made drink delivered with courtesy and an ever-changing blackboard that tempts the wine-by-the-glass drinker to try something new. After a recent dinner at Faces, a friend, who happens to be a chef, summed up the restaurant. ''It's a comfortable place without any hype. It's casual and friendly. The food is fresh and good. When I think about where to eat in Central, I always forget about it. I don't know why.'' Perhaps no more. Dinner for two, with drinks and wine, comes to $800. The Greek promotion runs through August. Faces Restaurant and Bar, 4/F, Citibank Tower, 3 Garden Road, Central. Tel: 526 4333; Hours: 11.30am-10.30pm daily.