(Restaurant review for The Upcoming Magazine)
Strolling down Soho’s busy Bateman Street, Suvlaki stands out from the crowd of food joints with its white and blue graffiti-laden exterior, coaxing passers-by to take a peek into this new street food-inspired restaurant, which has recently been revamped and taken over by Yannis Theodorakakos and chef Elias Mamalakis.
Approaching the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly front of house and, upon walking in, instantly transported to Athens. The décor is not to be missed – the restaurant’s main wall has been adorned with Parthenon-style marble columns running the length of the space, while marble tabletops have been set with rustic ceramic plates, adding an extra feel of authenticity.
With the kitchen in plain view, and plenty of chefs and wait-staff to greet us inside, we were made to feel instantly at home and amongst family. This was made even more so by the close proximity between tables and the cosy atmosphere within the restaurant, and we soon befriended the couple beside us, who had visited Suvlaki on three occasions since its opening just a month ago. Before rushing off to the theatre, they recommended the Suvlaki Exuberance for two to share, which encourages diners to try a range of the restaurant’s dishes. We were more than happy to oblige.
To start the evening off, we ordered the Kalamata Olives and the Tzatziki, both of which came with generous amounts of pitta bread. The Tzatziki was exactly what you would expect from an authentic Greek restaurant, made with fresh cucumbers, dill and creamy full-fat yoghurt. Although the restaurant boasted a diverse range of beers from Greek microbreweries, and strictly Greek wines, we opted for ouzo to have with our snacks as we contemplated the restaurant’s menu.
From the robata-style grill we ordered the Chicken Thighs Marinated in Florina Peppers and Tarragon, and the Lamb Mince with Athenian Spices. Although the chicken skewers were beautifully tender, they lacked the punch we had hoped for and left us waiting for more. On the flipside, the lamb mince was the star of the evening – moist, juicy, flavourful and reminiscent of lamb koftas you might find in Middle Eastern cooking.
Similarly, the Greek Burger with Feta was anything but disappointing. The mix of lamb, pork and beef mince added a depth of flavour that can’t be found in any one meat, made even better thanks to added parsley, which gave it an extra herby kick. The usual accompaniments of sweet mustard, lettuce and red onions, this time in Greek pitta bread, would also keep any burger lover satisfied.
Next, we tried the Vegetarian Wrap, made with Mastelo cheese and turmeric sauce, and the special of the evening, a delicious Pulled Pork and Feta Cheese Wrap. The vegetarian option was easy on the palate and light in flavour, with added sweetness from crunchy grilled yellow peppers. Another story entirely was the pulled pork: cooked slowly over several hours that same day, it was succulent and incredibly juicy, with aromatic flavours granted by the addition of allspice and paprika, and creaminess from further hints of feta cheese.
Not stopping there, we also ordered four sides, including a traditional Greek Saladmade with crisp tomatoes, and the Cretan Salad, made with barley rusk, capers and feta. The special of the evening was Baked Potato, and we also went for the Baked Feta, jazzed up with kalamata olives and herbs. Unfortunately, the potato offered least to the meal, while the other sides added just a little too much of a feta hit.
We ended dinner with their only dessert, the chocolate biscuit cake with homemade coffee ice cream. This was a dense, chocolaty cake, which cut away the saltiness of our mains. The ice cream was sharp and refreshing, perfectly complementing the cake for the final phase of our meal.
Suvlaki is definitely a great place to visit if you’re looking for a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, or if you’re after a quick bite on your way to somewhere else. Its late closing time of 12am is also sure to be an attraction for those in the vicinity, with its well-priced, well-cooked food (made with responsibly sourced meat and fresh ingredients) sure to put any local kebab shops to shame.