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Mazi – Modern Greek in Notting Hill:
I’ve been looking forward to the opening of Mazi, not least because I was curious about the concept of Modern Greek Food. Now, that is in no way meant to be insulting, but from my own visits to Greece I know is as a country where the ingredients, particularly vegetables and fish, are outstanding and where the cuisine is simple, traditional and incredibly well flavoured. So why try to ‘cheffy’ it up?
Well of course, there is no reason why not. As long as it’s about taking traditional recipes and genuinely working on how to improve them with modern cooking techniques and adapt them for a modern palate. And that is just what Mazi has achieved.
The restaurant itself is charming. Very fresh, blue and white décor, a pretty terrace with fig tree, vines and olive tree and shelves of greek produce. And, the food was superb.
We started by sampling the ‘Cold Jars’. Pretty preserving jars of traditional with a twist and rather less than traditional meze, including inside out ‘Gemista’ (that’s stuffed pepper to you and me) with cherry tomato and fresh mint, a wonderfully light Tarama with lemon confit, a smokey grilled aubergine dip with soya and thyme honey and, perhaps my personal favourite, a deconstructed Spanakopita with broken filo pastry, feta and dill.
There are eight of these on the menu, all delicious and very morish. My only suggestion would be that to make the most of these, some flat bread might be a nice addition to the little buckets of herby bread slices we were offered.
Genuine Greek Salad came with a rich feta, kalamata olives and kritama, an unusual coastline plant that has a salty citrusy taste.
We tried a selection of the main dishes, ‘Grand Mama’s meatballs with mint and sesame dip’ were lovely crusty meatballs with a pink middle.
Feta tempura with lemon marmalade and caper meringue was a wonderful dish with excellent salty rich feta coated with the lightest meringue crust.
Braised herb crust lamb saddle and its shoulder Baklava was one of the most visually stunning of the dishes and tasted as good as it looked with tender slow cooked lamb in ‘baklava’ contrasting with the rare crusted lamb saddle.
Finally, Lobster with Orzo Pasta, basil and Metaxa was a pretty and beautifully balanced plate of pasta ‘rice’ topped with lobster and a Metaxa foam.
Our desserts were equally stunning, both to taste and to look at. A pretty Greek Yoghurt Delight was a panna cotta type dish served with edible flowers, quince jelly and syrup and what was described as rusks but tasted more like tiny morsels of popcorn.
Tsoureki Souffle was a light spongy dish full of a melted sauce (apparently with white chocolate) served with greek coffee ice-cream.
There’s a carefully chosen Greek wine list, with nicely aged red wine (nothing younger than 2009) priced at £22+ and a wide selection of white wines. We were treated to a glass of Mastiha Skinos to finish. There’s an extensive range of original cocktails if you prefer to try something different and some rather stunning sounding fresh juices and teas.
So, this looks like a winning concept to me. The prices are reasonable, with the cold jars all at £6 and hot plates ranging from £7 up to £25 for the lobster dish we enjoyed.
I dined at Mazi at the invitation of the Restaurant