So I finally managed to visit halloumi (and eventually write about it, excuse my tardiness). Now after going passed this place on the bus for weeks, and keeping updated on their progress I was so excited to finally get my teeth into some Greek tapas.
The restaurant is cosy. Big enough to seat enough people but small enough that it feels like a small bistro rather than a restaurant. We were seated not too far from the open kitchen. The punchy smells of oregano, garlic and lemon perfumed the air. Oh god, did I really just write that.
The décor is modern, light paint and dim lighting. Scattered about the place are small touches that remind you that this is a greek restaurant. Smashed plated artfully arranged into a collage, and shelves stacked with olive oil and olives. My one complaint was the music was too loud. I’m not sure if this is because it was a Saturday night or if this is how it always is. Music is fine but I don’t want to have to raise my voice to talk to people over dinner.
The menu is simple. Everything on there is a small plate. Designed so that you can order a few things to try. They advise 3 dishes per person, 4 if you’re especially hungry. The majority of the dishes are of greek origin, with a few exceptions. There were 3 of us eating so we ordered 12 main mezes and 2 sides. We each chose 3 or 4 things and then just shared what we fancy. I’ll just list what we had to make it easier.
- Pan fried Scottish scallops in anchovy butter
- Grilled Halloumi
- Pitta bread
The scallops were utterly delicious. Perfectly cooked, full of flavour and the butter complemented them perfectly.The jury’s out on the authenticity of this dish. Olive oil is more widely used than butter in the Mediterranean Grilled halloumi is always fairly solid, it’s fairly hard to muck it up. It was tasty, but I think a sharp zingy dressing would have added an extra dimension. Now the Bresaola. The lamb was lovely, tender and well seasoned. I just felt it was a little overpriced at £9 for 3 lamb chops. Now I know lamb is expensive, but even I know that £3 per chop is a little steep.
- Mini Gyros
- Vegetable Dolmades
I forgot to take a photo of most of Nick’s food. The best of the bunch was the Stiffado and the Spanakopita. The beef in the Stiffado was well cooked and melted in the mouth. The sauce was rich, thick and full of flavour. I could have eaten a vat of the stuff. Spanakopita is one of my favourite Greek dishes. Filo pastry + spinach+ cheese, what’s not to like. The pastry was flaky and the filling moreish and well seasoned. I found the vegetable dolmades to be bland and underseasoned. They were more of a texture than a flavour really. They really were a disappointment. The major low point of the evening were the mini gyros. I tried a small piece of the pork from Nick’s gyros, it was by far the saltiest thing I have ever eaten. It tasted as if someone had just dunked the meat in a pot of salt before dropping it on the plate. It was just Nick’s gyros, Sheetal’s was equally salty. The salt was partially balanced by the flat bread and gyros filling, but I cannot understand the need for that much salt. I found the meat to be chewy and the quality was lacking.
- Mini Gyros
- Halloumi Fries
- Grilled Octopus
The grilled octopus was amazing. It was the best dish of the night. Grilled to utter perfection. The char added a great bit of bitterness to the sweet and smoky octopus. I question the houmous underneath but it was easy enough to avoid. If you order this dish I encourage you, nee beg you to squeeze the lemon over it. It brings the entire dish to life. The portion size of the octopus was amazing for the price. As for the halloumi fries, well they were another disappointment. I’ll ignore the fact that somehow tempura feta made its way into the dish as well, the fries themselves were just disappointing. The batter wasn’t very crispy and they were just bland and a bit greasy.
I want to talk about the service. Now one of our servers was great, lovely and really pleasant (I think her name was Kayleigh?). The other was a different story altogether. She was surly, sour faced, and downright rude at points. We had to ask for water three times, and she never seemed particularly fussed when we asked. There was never a smile, and the food was simply dumped down on the table without explanation of what things were. When we asked if the dish she’d just put down was the beef Stiffado she just looked at us before finally exclaiming yes, in a very clipped tone. Now I know it may have seemed like an odd question but Sheetal is Hindu, so ensuring we knew which dish was beef was fairly important. I’m inclined to think this server is a family member of the manager, otherwise, I can’t understand why she’d be allowed to treat paying customers like that.
Overall the food was good, but a little pricey (£82 for 3 of us). After the service we received I don’t think I’ll be visiting again in a hurry.