Ergon – Greek Deli and Cuisine – a Restaurant Tasting and More:
There are two kinds of people – Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek.
Gus Portokalos – My Big Fat Greek Wedding
About a year and a half ago I was invited to a preview of a Greek Restaurant in Notting Hill called Mazi. While I’m not Greek, like many students at the time, in my teens and twenties I spent summer holidays happily lurking on Greek beaches. I remember the food; A lot of very fresh, excellent vegetables and fruit, olive oil (which at the time you bought from the Chemist in the UK), fantastic black Kalamata olives and pistachios. Freshly grilled fish and pizza. And, trays of food arriving daily at the flat we were staying in, courtesy of my partner’s aunts – moussaka, stuffed peppers and various meat stews. That’s about it. Mazi seemed a million miles from there. I wrote my review. It resulted in a flurry of negative comments on various social networks from Greeks, upset that their food was being changed into something unrecognisably modern. But, I still loved the place.
Now, the vanguard seems to be followed up with two great new contenders. Carpo, the stunningly laid out coffee shop and speciality food shop on Picadilly caters admirably for those of us with a sweet tooth, while Ergon, a new restaurant-come-deli in Marylebone showcases the best of Greek food with plenty of things to buy for your own kitchen in addition to a buzzing restaurant serving a whole range of sharing plates. Our tasting evening, in true Mediterranean style was meant to finish by 8pm. It was after 10pm when we staggered from the restaurant having tried more dishes than I had imagined possible, for all the world wishing I was Greek.
We started the evening with a shot glass of rouzo – ouzo sweetened and softened with hibiscus. It was delicious, fragrant and refreshing. Actually I think most of us had two, which perhaps explains why I don’t have a tidy list of all the dishes we went on to enjoy. Or that might simply have been that we went on to enjoy a seemingly endless selection of dishes starting with excellent bread, taramasalata, a feta cheese spread and roasted aubergine salad.
There was a platter of smoked fish, some wonderful homemade sausages cooked in a rich tomato paste and the lightest puffs of deep fried pastry filled with cheese
I avoided eating the fried eggs with staka cream from chania and because of an aversion to eggs, couldn’t even bring myself to take a photograph! But those hardcore egg-lovers raved about this rich, molten dish. That is of course, the best thing about this way of eating – there’s something for everyone and you can afford to order a wide selection of dishes to share with each of the small plates prices between £5 and £8.
Meanwhile I had a chance to steal more of the Naxos gruyere and grilled squid, both of which were wonderful. It is testament indeed to Ergon that’d I’d already heard all about the gruyere from some passionate diners using twitter! The squid was notable for an amazing, soft texture – no rubber bands to be found anywhere on this plate of tender fish.
We had the chance to try a few of the chef’s specials too – my personal favourite, the meltingly tender lamb shank which came with a large pot of orzo pasta.
There was of course a Moussaka, rich with tomato and aubergine but somehow not overly heavy.
Then, just when we started to think it was all over, a bowl of creamy Greek yoghurt arrived
And finally two wickedly sweet and naughty desserts for those who really hadn’t eaten enough already or those, like me, who would have tried anyway!
Because yes, of course, by the time I finished eating I fell firmly into the ‘wish I was Greek’ camp, and left the restaurant with the definite impression that if I stayed any longer I’d find myself reenacting this moment
‘are you hungry?’
‘ Uh no, I already ate.’
‘Okay, I make you something’
Ian and Maria from My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Don’t eat before you go – do take some friends and enjoy!
15 Picton Place
Marylebone London W1U 1BP