"It's not much but it's ours"

Monday, March 06, 2006



Another book fair. Another dinner.

After a day setting up our stand at the new venue for The London Book Fair at Excel, I had a n early supper planned with my good chums from Hallmark.

The beauty of me being asked to organise the meals is that I can make damn sure that they are all within walking distance of my flat so I can have an early night in preparation for the 40 + meetings a day I have to cram in during the fair.

Tonight, the short walk to Hoxton Market and The Real Greek. Opened, I think, in 1999, the restaurant was right at the heart of the gentrification of Hoxton and Shoreditch and despite the opening of the Mezze bar next door and, with the sale of 50% of the business, the roll out of the Souvlaki bar concept, the main oroginal restuarant seems to have lost none of its appeal. It was rammed to the rafters soon after we arrived for our early booking of 6.30pm.

I ordered starters for the table to share in the form of their plates of mixed mezze. Each plate came with three selections and I chose ( to quote from the menu )

Lentils with a touch of spices from Alexandroupoli
Octopus baked in parchment paper with garlic, olive oil and rosemary

Fava (light purée of yellow split peas from Santorini)
Pot-roasted rabbit with yoghurt and dil
Grilled Cornish squid marinated in fresh herbs, lemon zest and olive oil

Soutzouki (Armenian style spicy beef sausage) souvlaki
Tirokeftedes (fried cheese dumplings)
Warm salad of chick peas, Thessaly style

All were good although, for sharing between five, it was scarcely enough and I underordered.

The octopus was a hit as was the rabbit in dill ( the first time my chums had ever tasted rabbit ) the souvlaki was off the mark and I found it very tough and lacking flavour. The others, despite the great descriptions, were non descript

We drank an excellent St Elias from Pelopene with this which soon disappeared so I ordered a Tselepos from Arcadia which I thought even better. There really are some excellent wines coming out of Greece rigght now. I wish they were more widely available in the UK.

For the main courses, they offer between smaller and larger plates depending on your appetite. We all went for the larger plates

Seared rib-eye served with trahana
Chicken Skordostoumbi (pot-roasted with garlic in Corfu style)
Marsh Mutton
Roasted Sea Bass

My rib was cooked rare to order and not bad at all. I did not taste the others so cannot comment.

Puddings were undistinguished apart from an excellent baclava.

With mint tea and coffee and some petits the bill was a not insubstantial £220 inc tip which was deserved for service which was efficient if a little harried.

As a meal to entertain visiting guests, it would seem that the Real Greek still hits the spot. I enjoyed it more than my last visit when it seemed a little tired. I am not sure, however, how often I can see myself going there on my own penny.

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