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It’s All Greek at Suvlaki, Soho:
I was trying to remember why I hadn’t invited my part Greek friend, The-Hedonist, to join me at Suvlaki. He cheerily pointed out that since most of the dishes are meat based, it perhaps wouldn’t have been the best place in the world for him to try. Though there are vegetarian options for both suvlaki and skewers made with Mastelo cheese from Chios and some rather delicious sounding snacks to eat with Ouzo, so he wouldn’t have gone hungry. It is though, mostly about meat, so instead, I met a girlfriend, hoping to catch up a bit on some gossip.
Suvlaki is a casual, cafe type of restaurant with an open charcoal grill at the front and a small kitchen at the back. It’s intimate and very friendly, we learnt that all the grill chefs were from Corinth and I got the impression that it is the sort of place where you end up working because you know someone who knows someone. Almost like being in Greece.
We sat by the window, watching the world go by and relaxing. Then, a VERY familiar face walked in. Not someone I know personally, it was none other than the food journalist Jay Rayner. At least there was a table between us and him.
As a way of trying most of the things on the menu, we ordered the Suvlaki Exuberance set menu. It comes with two skewers, two mini wraps, four sides and a pita burger and makes for a filling meal for two at £34. If you want a little more than a wrap, it’s not a bad way to go either. Though the rest of the menu is quite flexible too – you can order three mini wraps with different fillings for £12 or three skewers for £11
As the food arrived I slipped into subterfuge mode, trying my best to take pictures without looking TOO obviously like a food blogger. As a result, nothing looks quite as good as it should. But I can promise you that for the most part it tasted excellent.
Everything was nicely presented on an olive wood board. We indulged in a carafe of wine too, there’s a short list of four Greek wines and seven Greek beers. In our case, we asked the waitress who brought us a carafe of Sigalas Mandilaria-Mavrotragano PGI 2013, a lovely soft, fruity red.
We’d ordered pork with lemon glaze and lamb mince skewers. We initially tried to share everything, but in the case of the pork, getting the meat off the skewers was quite tricky, though worth the effort. We thought the glaze could have had a little more lemony flavour and that the meat was just a bit overcooked. The lamb mince though, was superb – beautifully aromatic with a little cumin and hot pepper and liberally laced with oregano. I think there was cinnamon in there too, but can’t be sure.
Having struggled with the skewers, we abandoned the idea of splitting each of the wraps and instead had one each. My friend’s chicken thigh wrap with tomatoes, lettuce and lemon mustard was good enough for her not to notice the tomato (which she normally avoids). I loved the wild boar sausage wrap with a very spicy red pepper sauce.
We were neither particularly taken by the pita burger. The round pita bread just seemed to be a little too much for the burger. Having said that, I tend to order a skinny burger without bread at all, so as with all things this might just be a matter of personal taste.
Then there were hot, crispy chips scattered with a dusting of oregano, a crumbly baked feta and a couple of salads. The tiny salad bowls were VERY full and the result was that an otherwise excellent salad couldn’t quite be dressed properly. Perhaps we should have turned the salads out onto our plates?
Now, I wasn’t planning on ordering dessert after all that food, but somehow we ended up with a generous portion of deliciously rich chocolatey biscuit cake with home made greek coffee ice-cream each. And, we ordered coffee – an expresso for me and Greek coffee for my friend.
All in, lunch was a great experience. I’m planning to return (and pay my own bill) when I don’t feel constrained not to do so because of the other diners!
Suvlaki, an Athenian Grill
24 Bateman Street
London W1D 3AL
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Suvlaki, Soho. All comments are editorially given and I was not obliged to write a positive review.