I like to have no preconceptions before I review a place, but when I first heard of As Greek As It Gets there were a few phrases which sprang to mind.
What’s in a name?
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Can’t see past the end of her nose.
I was overwhelmed with idioms. Really? Why would they call it that? It’s a terrible name. But I was there to review the place, not to pass early judgement.
The team were warm and welcoming when the Welshman and I arrived. It’s quite an unusual décor; contemporary with hints of mint green luxuriousness and an added bonus of having a stairwell full of spoons.
Yes, spoons! I thought the Greeks were known for plates? Moving on…
We opted for sharing a handful of mezze dishes, and being a fish fan, I was keen to try the calamari. Last time I had calamari, I wasn’t overwhelmed. Turns out, this was hot, had a decent crunch and the squid itself was as it should be; an initial elasticy bite that melts after first inception. Bingo. A fantastic start. I cheered a little. Woohoo!
Next was the feta tylixti - feta cheese squares covered in ouzo and honey served in filo pastry parcels. Our host explained that these had been toned down for the British palate – normally the ouzo isn’t reduced as intensely in Greece. The initial bite consisted of the sticky filo – still crispy – and then the overwhelming saltiness of the feta cheese. The ouzo was much less pungent than I had initially thought – I could barely detect the aniseed which relieved a few fears. The portion was too big however; no one can honestly manage that amount of feta. If the dish was served as a smaller squares with a bit more honey to balance out the saltiness, I think I would have enjoyed it more. As it was, I wouldn’t order it again.
The grilled halloumi (I know, more cheese) was just great. Grilled simply and dressed with a few chillies. YES!
Tigania xoirini, otherwise known as pork strips in retsina and cream, left much to be desired. It erred on the side of fattiness, was submerged in a very heavy, strongly herbed cream sauce – which might have been OK – only it was drenched in oil too. Cream and oil don’t mix well, so it made an unpleasant looking slick of a dish as you can see.
The gigandes (giant baked beans essentially) tasted a bit false. It wouldn’t have surprised me if they weren’t home made. They weren’t a high point.
So I’ve done all the negatives now, which leaves me with the best part of the meal. The stuffed romano peppers were so sweet and packed full of creamy spinach. Not wet and sloppy, no, but earthy with a bite. It was something so simple that gave us both a lot of pleasure. The side salad / garnish thing they were going for could’ve been skipped if I’m honest.
Pitta bread was very good and their melitzanosalata (aubergine dip – a bit like baba ganoush) was fresh and cut through the courses. It was easy to eat if a little under seasoned.
Although I was definitely too stuffed to eat dessert, we enjoyed galaktoboureko and some baklavas.
As Greek As It Gets really did surprise. Fair enough, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest you take a trip there if you live in Shoreditch, but if you find yourself in west London, or live locally, and are in the mood for a great plate of calamari then you should definitely pop by. Admittedly it was a night pocked with a few bad dishes, but my overall feelings towards the place are largely positive. From my experience, I’d recommend the simpler dishes – they tend to do them well. It’s also made better with the fact that service was accompanied with a smile.
I was a guest at As Greek As It Gets.
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