When I was mapping out this theme for VeganMoFo, I made a list of cuisines that I could easily tick off (Indian, Italian), and those that I could try to find but would be unlikely to succeed in – Greek was one of those. Besides using a Greek cookbook for a month, I don’t have much experience with Greek food since giving up feta when I became vegan. So I was very happy when I accidentally happened upon this Greek chain in London that had just introduced a vegan menu.
The vegan options were fairly extensive – numerous cold and hot mezze dishes, plus two heartier souvlaki wraps, and three dessert options (and yes, one of those is baklava). It’s very much a sharing sort of place – just order a few nibbles and tuck in. I like that kind of eating, but it depends on having a relaxing atmosphere where you can leisurely peck at food while you chat with your companions. The Real Greek (or at least the Covent Garden branch) is decidedly not that place.
The tables are squeezed in very close together, and there must be some problem with the acoustics that makes the whole place deafeningly loud – I did not feel at ease the whole time, hollering at Dr HH, whilst trying to prevent our neighbours from hearing our every word as well. Nor could we really take our time – we ordered three hot mezze dishes, and they arrived five minutes after we placed our order. On the one hand, it’s nice to get quick service. On the other hand, that’s suspiciously fast.
Of course, the most important thing to consider is the food itself. We couldn’t resist these chickpea filo triangles, which were flavoured with cumin, turmeric, sun-dried tomatoes, and chilli. You probably don’t need me to tell you how good that pastry was. Just look at it! The filling was nice, and the sun-dried tomatoes were definitely the winning touch. They really elevated this, flavour-wise.
Pastry craving satisfied, we decided to focus on recognisably Greek dishes to round out our meal. So we went for these gigandes plaki, or giant beans, in a tomato sauce. The sauce was very rich and herby, and I’d definitely recommend it. It’s just a shame that it (along with our other two dishes) was so heavily garnished with dill. I can’t stand dill, and I hadn’t realised it was so big in Greek cuisine.
And you can’t go for Greek food without getting a moussaka! This one was made with potato, courgette, aubergine, and jackfruit, and it was also nice and flavoursome. Not ideal for sharing, of course, but still tasty. It is worth noting that all of these hot dishes were served lukewarm rather than actually hot, which was a bit disappointing.
All in all, the food was tasty, but the temperature and the atmosphere let it down a bit. And you’d probably have to spend quite a bit of money (or order one of the dips with bread) in order to fill up – we shared these three courses because we just wanted a light meal, but if you were properly hungry you’d definitely need a couple more. I was disappointed not to have room for the baklava, and I’m not sure I’ll be willing to return to see if it’s any good.
Have you ever been to a restaurant that was too noisy to be enjoyable? And what’s the best Greek dish?