Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Real Greek Souvlaki and Bar

My Harden's guide says the food in this place has got worse recently. I wouldn't entirely agree. This place attracts mostly workers from near-by offices. The decor is dark wood and metal. In the centre there is a big bar/kitchen, and around it are tables - both normal ones and high ones with stools. It's rarely full in the evenings, but seems to be popular enough and in the summer months a few tables outside on St John's Street are a major draw.
They have changed the menu since our last visit - which was admittedly some months ago. There are now various set meal options for groups of varying size, with perhaps the most budget option coming in the form of a £9 deal on a starter (eg hummus) followed by a souvlaki (Greek kebab) and washed down with half a pint.
Instead, we picked a selection of mezze a la carte (about £4 each), and then went for a grill selection for four at about £40. The taramasalata was creamy and fresh, and the accompanying warm grilled flat bread (pitta's not Greek, apparently) was gorgeous. Olives were nice, if unspectacular - I preferred the dish of salted nuts that came as a free appetizer. Stuffed vine leaves were more flavoursome and less vinegary than usual, and the fried octopus was also delicious.
The main course, I though was a lot more disappointing. The selection of grilled meats - chicken, sausage, lamb, etc - was nice enough, but not hugely inspiring and there seemed to be more of some meats than others. The accompanying thin crispy fries win my vote though.
Washed down with a couple of jugs of beer (£12) this feast came to over £90 for the four of us. Sure, we were stuffed. The food had been nice and there had even been entertainment in the shape of the lady at the next table setting her napkin on fire. But it wasn't £90 nice.
My advice would be to stick to mezze and go in the summer, during happy hour (before 7) to indulge in the interesting selection of Greek wines (including sparkling ones!).
The Real Greek Souvlaki and Bar, 140-142 St John Street, London EC1V 4UA, Tel: 020 7253 7234 ; Tube: Barbican, Bus: 153.

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