One of the best parts about visiting a truly international city, such as London, is the wide variety of cuisines available; the authentic cuisine at the Real Greek Covent Garden is no exception. Upon tasting the familiar and excellently executed flavors, I was transported out of London and back to Athens were I had spent time six years previous; it was a culinary vacation within a vacation. Immediately attracted by its cozy and welcoming atmosphere, we eagerly took our seats at a small side bar in front of a window that looked out onto Long Acre.
Upon reading the menu notes, we learned that The Real Greek was founded in 1999 by celebrity chef, Theodore Kyriakou. The original Hoxton won the award of “Best New London Restaurant,” prompting Kyriakou and his team to expand and start restaurants throughout London — in Clerkenwell (2003), Bankside (2004), Marylebone (2005), Putney (2005), Covent Garden (2006), Westfield (2008) and Spitalfields (2008). The Covent Garden location is near some of London’s most famous theatres, including the Royal Opera House, which makes it a convenient and delicious spot to grab a pre or post-theater lunch or dinner.
The Real Greek is known for its Mezedes (small savory dishes), freshly char-grilled Souvlakis (kebab grilled over charcoal embers and wrapped in flatbread, served with tzatziki and tomato giahni relish) and Sharers (meat platters recommended for two people or more, served with either a Greek salad or chips- fries for Americans). We started our meal with a tower of reasonably prices Mezedes (between £3.50-£4.00), including Tzatziki (Greek yoghurt with cucumber, garlic and mint), Koliosalata (a smooth mackerel, yoghurt, dill and lemon dip), spiced hummus (made with chickpeas with tahini, paprika, cumin and chilli) and Tabouleh (bulgar wheat with herbs, tomatoes and Macedonian-cured peppers). After enjoying a glass of Mediterra Rosé from Greece (rosy pink, voluptuous, complex flavor palette), we moved on to some lamb and pork Souvlaki- some of the best I’ve had.
I was impressed by the extensive dessert menu, including: Greek Sundae (Vanilla Ice Cream with nuts, seeds and crispy kataifi, finished with a caramel sauce and whipped cream), Real Greek Yoghurt (With whole, preserved walnuts in honey syrup), Chocolate Mousse Cake, Baklava (Crisp filo pastry with walnut and honey), Kataïfi (angel-hair filo pastry with pistachio nuts), and Loukoumia (delicate sweets flavoured with nuts, from the island of Syros). Finding it too difficult to decide, we went with the Dessert Sharer (consisting of Greek Yoghurt, Baklava, Kataïfi, and Chocolate Mousse Cake) and Mavrodaphne Sweet Red dessert wine (from Greece, with warm, heady scents of stone fruit, plums and prunes, with overtones of brown spice and an aroma of bay leaves). All in all, it was a wonderful and reasonably priced meal in one of London’s most captivating neighborhoods.
The Real Greek
60-62 Long Acre,
London WC2E 9JE
Tel: 020 7240 2292
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 12:00 – 11:00 pm; Sun: 12:00 – 10:30pm
Tube: Covent Garden