Just Opened

Published on April 26th, 2016 | by Ben Southwood

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New Menu at Suvlaki, Soho

Tiny slim Soho location, 20 covers jammed in in a pleasant elbow-to-elbow camaraderie. Three chefs grilling in front of everyone. A wall of stone pillars. And a surprisingly welcoming Greek menu. That’s the great thing about modern culinary London: opening you up to all the cuisines you thought you’d never like.

I pretty much wrote off all middle eastern food entirely. Lebanese: bland and samey. Greek: limited palette, basically just a few generic meat dishes. Turkish: doner & shish kebabs, good for drunkenness but not for restaurant eating. What else is there? I’ve never really heard of Egyptian, Iranian, Saudi, Israeli cuisine.

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But guess what. My stupid stereotypes were of course wrong. Greek cuisine can be excellent, and indeed Soho rents notwithstanding, people can serve fairly big chunks of it to you for fairly reasonable prices. “Snacks” at some restaurants are tiny single bite delicacies for £4 or £5. Here, for £3.50 you can get yourself a pile of coarse, smoky, deeply-flavoured sausage (were those bits of garlic I spied?) with some tomato-ey sauce to dip them in. Or, for the same price, four lumps of mastelo cheese (a bit like halloumi) with beautifully-contrasting fig marmalade in freshy grilled bits of flatbread.

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Mains are similarly generous deals: just over a tenner for a pile of meat skewers or cheaper for wraps. I was impressed with how they made an incredibly soft and delicate frankfurter-esque creation out of wild boar—total novelty!—although in general the mains were weaker (though still decent to good) than the starters, sides and desserts. The weakest dish was probably the monkfish, which ought really to be dropped: focus on doing meat and cheese well, rather than spreading themselves too broadly. The pieces of fish fillet came out dry, chewy and somewhat rubbery, and we weren’t told they were accompanied by the warm potato salad we ordered.

 

But, along with the lovely snacks, the desserts were really excellent. Rich, creamy buffalo milk ice cream with sweetened fig was a clean, satisfying indulgence; but chocolate biscuit cake with Greek coffee ice cream (specially recommended by the waiter) was really exceptional. Dense, part-crumbly and part-soft, it was a bit like tiffin and a bit like Ben & Jerry’s ‘wich bars but far better than both. I’d go back again just for that.

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Suvlaki serves up decent mains, excellent starters and desserts, nice ouzo, and a fantastic Greek craft beer selection to boot, does it with adequate service, and in a tiny, buzzing atmosphere, and for a very reasonable price. Highly recommended.

http://www.suvlaki.co.uk/

Suvlaki, 21 Bateman St, W1D 3AL

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