Serving up the likes of moreish melitzanosalata, delectable dolmades and hearty herby gigantes plaki, you'll find The Real Greek in nine locations across London. From taramasalata to tzatziki, here you can find recognisable Grecian dishes right through to daring delicacies - of course washed down with a glass of Greek wine or a shot of cheeky Ouzo!
I went along to the St. Martin's Lane restaurant, by bustling Leicester Square, to sample a few tiers of their famous meze platters.
The interior evoked memories of Mediterranean holidays, with exposed brickwork and flashes of bright white and primary colours. Along the wall was Grecian photography, as well as encouragements to get with the Greek spirit and "drink ouzo!" Definitely a reminder of my time spent on the Greek Islands.
After much deliberation and a couple of samples from the friendly waiter, we chose to drink the Lazaridi's Queen of Hearts. In true Mediterranean style, we could have this in a 500ml carafe (£15.60) as apposed to a whole 750ml bottle. Perfect for two! Hailing from one of the best small producers of Greece, Niko Lazaridis, this was a refreshing blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Assyrtico and Muscat.
To begin, we shared the Greek Flatbreads with Olive Oil and Dukkah (£2.75) which we agreed were exceptional value. The moreish bread was perfect for dipping in the oil and then catching the warm and spicy dry roasted nuts and seeds. Alongside this we had the Hummus (£4.25) which had a beautiful texture and inviting zing of chilli and red onion on top.
At The Real Greek, you are encouraged to choose 3-4 hot or cold meze platters per person, which are served on stacked up platters. In a funny sort of way, they reminded me of afternoon tea stands. We went for (pictures from top to bottom) Grilled Asparagus (£5.25), Pork Belly (£6.25), Grilled Halloumi (£4.72), Tonia's Prawns with Feta (£6.75), Salt Cod (£6.25) and Grilled Kalamari, pictured at the start of the post (£6.50).
Our resounding favourites were the tangy tomato prawns with feta, kalamari and the light and crispy salt cod. Who would have thought that crumbled cheese would go so seamlessly with king prawns? The kalamari (spelt without a c here) had a gorgeous sticky Greek honey glaze and paprika marinade which really made the flavours pop!
The Greeks know how to do halloumi and they didn't disappoint on this occasion either. My dining pal Grace doesn't eat meat so I was happy to devour the slow cooked pork belly too - which is flavoured like a traditional gyros with oregano, paprika and red onion. The only thing we did note was the price of the asparagus. However beautifully grilled, £5.25 seemed a high mark up compared to lamb and skewers at £5.50.
Rounding off our meal, we couldn't resist the homemade Baklava (£4.35). A nutty and very sweet dessert drenched in honey, this is a pudding with my name on it. In this version, the crispy filo pastry encased honey soaked walnuts for a match made in heaven. As we were so full, we happily shared this dessert with a small triangle each.
Overall The Real Greek is all about sharing with friends, family and partners. It's the perfect night out to experiment with Greek flavours - from recognisable dips and sides right through to more unusual dishes. There are lots of fresh and colourful ingredients with flavours which complement each other. So really it's all about mixing and matching, trying something new, something old and actually getting a lot of vegetables and healthy grains in there too. I think those with veggie, carnivore and gluten free diets would all love this place! And the Greek wine isn't bad either...
Have you been to The Real Greek? What is your favourite Greek dish?
the real greek
54 st. martin's lane
Nearest tube: Leicester Square
Note: We dined as guests of The Real Greek but all opinions are honest and my own.