Being half Greek myself there is something so deliciously comforting about a plate of Greek food. So when Hero & Leander stumbled across The Greek Larder in Kings Cross, London we had to check it out.
Offering all the familiar comforts of traditional Greek food and wine, The Greek Larder focuses on the authentic flavours and warm hospitality that you’d come to expect from visiting a Greek home. However there is something distinctly different and contemporary in the restaurant interiors as well as the food. Exposed concrete ceilings, industrial pendant lights, wooden box shelves packed to the rafters with imported goodies and a buzzing open kitchen creates an updated and modern take on a sometimes undervalued type of cuisine.
We visited on a drizzly autumnal Tuesday evening expecting most people to have filtered on home after work but were surprised to see that The Greek Larder was full. As our waiter led us to our table the atmosphere was electric. I could hear the distant but familiar sound of Greek being spoken in the kitchen and even by some of the diners- a sure sign that the food would be good. Once we were seated our waiter informed us that Tuesday was a great night to dine as the wine is sold at retail price; a lovely way of introducing wine from small Greek producers made from Greek indigenous grapes to the UK market, not to mention a bargain! As previously mentioned The Greek Larder’s, vast and comprehensive wine collection looks over diners from the shelving above. Taking you on an educational journey from the ‘dark’ and ‘rich’ red wines of the Xinomavro grape to the ever popular Assyrtiko variety from Santorini with its salty crystalline acidity, the selection offers the city’s most definitive collection of Greek wines. Pairing the food store and restaurant affords you the ability to sample a glass with your meal, recommended by the knowledgeable staff, and leave with a bottle in your bag to wow your friends with long after you leave.
Whilst we were deciding on what to eat our waiter brought us over a Greek Apertif each to sample made with Ouzo, cucumber, mint and apple juice. Ouzo is quite an acquired drink but for an aniseed fiend like myself it was absolutely delicious and very refreshing. The menu is made up of sections including meze, souvlaki, mains and sides which can be a little daunting when deciding what to eat. How much is too much. Luckily our very knowledgeable waiter gave us a full rundown of the menu as well as recommendations. Just to make things a little bit harder (or so I thought) I asked for the vegetarian options, which if you have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you will understand is sometimes an unusual request when it comes to Greek food. Luckily enough for me the waiter was fabulously accommodating and pointed out all of the dishes I could eat (and there were many) as well as suggesting a few meatier options for my date.
To start we were presented with a Meze Platter packed with stars such as homemade taramosolata, tzatziki, fava; a yellow split pea dip and innovative take on the classic dolmadakia topped with smoked eel. All of this was served with the delicious roditiki ladopita, a scrumptious crisp flat bread from Rhodes as well as a little pot of Greek olives- surely the best in the world?! The olives come from a single cooperative in Rovies on the island of Evoia, who ensure they’re the plumpest and juiciest around. The vine leaves used in their dolmadakia are harvested in May while still young and tender. They’re packed on the same day to preserve their distinctive flavour and delicate colour ensuring year-round freshness which provides soft and yielding mouthfuls. Possibly one of my favourite dishes of the evening was the Kefalotiri saganaki which is a Greek pan-fried cheese served with dry cured Kalamata olive paste, sesame seeds and wild thyme honey. It was a rich and comforting dish for such a gloomy London evening.
With tummies already a little full it dawned upon us that this was only the starter. We had our souvlaki and mains to come. Whilst we waited for our mains we sipped on the delicious Nykteri 2015 Santorini white wine that the waiter had recommended. The grapes are harvested at night (hence the name Nykteri-night) and due to the volcanic soil in Santorini the wine is fresh, fragrant and light on the palette. A glass or two later and we are ready to tuck into our mains. Kolokithopita (marrow, feta & mint filo pie) with slow dried tomatoes, sweet onion and a radish and watercress salad was my tasty veggie option. Unimpressed with my vegetarianess, my date opted for the meaty option of Seared Spring Lamb with slow oven braised okra and Tinos graviera which he assured me was some of the best lamb he has ever tasted, much to my yaya’s dismay. With eyes bigger than our tummies earlier in the evening we had also ordered 2 side dishes; the chips with wild thyme seasoning and the Lachanosalata made with crispy Greek cabbage, pomegranate seeds with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Although we only managed a few mouthfuls of each they were wonderfully tasty and when we return will definitely order again.
Dessert was a step too far for us on this particular evening however we will return to sample the scrumptious menu another time as I am sure it would be as fantastic as the rest. An interesting dessert fact for The Greek Larder is that all of the sweet treats are gluten free.
Greek food is always a treat but good Greek food can be hard to come by. Thankfully our search needn’t continue as stepping into Theodore Kyriakou’s Greek Larder is a trip to Greek paradise – only closer to home!
For more information please visit www.thegreeklarder.co.uk
The Greek Larder, 1 York Way, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4AS (located just off Granary Square).