Greek food is making a name for itself in London’s trend obsessed street food scene and Suvlaki is certainly giving it the title it deserves. Launched in 2015, the Athenian grill is a bright addition to Soho’s bustling foodie district and brings the best authentic Greek street food to the table, in the classiest of ways. Transporting the well-known street food favourite, suvlaki, to Soho, leading Greek chef and TV personality Elias Mamalakis has worked his modern magic to present a traditional menu that reaps the tastes of Greek cuisine in a merging of old and new flavours that’s popular amongst its diners. Joining Elias as Consultant Chef, Alfred Prasad has recently added a number of dishes to the already fabulous menu.
Suvlaki is small but feels like a Greek street café, in the very best of ways. Recently refurbished by entrepreneurs Yannis Theodorakakos and Michael Kantartzis and designed by Greek interior designer Afroditi Krassa, the restaurant boasts a cool, cosy interior of inky dark blues and moody lighting, offset by a myriad of urban textures and its notorious Greek white graffiti that adorns the interior and exterior. In keeping with the restaurant’s street food inspired menu, diners can watch their food being charred to perfection on the kitchen’s robata grill, as they sit back amidst the stone columned wall behind them that conjures up images of Athen’s beloved Parthenon. There is a real sense of community in the air, hinted at by the restaurant’s intimate seating plan — that’s 34 tables in less than 370 square feet — but don’t let that put you off by any means. The tables are close, but not too close, so you needn’t worry about having to chat to your neighbours over a closely-set candlelit table.
From the minute you step inside you are made to feel instantly at home amidst the Greek Suvlaki family –lovingly ushered in and greeted with smiling faces – the staff do very well to maintain a friendly and attentive service despite the fast-paced buzz of an evidently increasingly popular restaurant. Everything here is freshly prepared on a daily basis and the staff take great pride in being able to speak knowledgeably about the provenance of what they’re serving – they choose the very best cuts of meat for their suvlaki and prepare the sticks on site, all of which are cooked using the best robata-styled grill and finest charcoal in plain view. The result? Some of the most flavourful Greek dishes London has to offer and better still, served by some of London’s friendliest staff, too.
Less is definitely more here – there are two very good white wines and two reds on the menu, with a varied choice of Greek lagers and ales.
Finely crafted with the very best ingredients and artfully presented, the menu boasts a good selection of starters that give you a taster of what’s to come. Opt for a manouri salad, prepared traditionally with manouri cheese, cherry tomatoes and wild oregano, which pairs perfectly with their British-sourced grilled country pork & leek sausage, served with a spicy red pepper dip. If you’re feeling hungry, we highly recommend their grilled mastelo cheese nibble; wrapped in their finest Athenian pita bread with fig marmalade, an absolute must for cheese lovers.
Delectable options such as pork with tzatziki, chicken thighs with lemon mustard, wild boar sausage and Chios island Mastelo cheese frequent Suvlaki’s menu. If this is your first visit, take your taste buds on a journey like we did and go for the Suvlaki Exuberance, a sharing platter for two, which gives you the opportunity to try a selection of the restaurant’s skewers, wraps, sides and Greek burgers. Skewers are expertly crafted and generously portioned — we’d recommend the honey glazed pork which pairs well with a vegetarian wrack of roasted delights and the menu’s ever-popular Chios island mastelo cheese, all seasoned with honey and lemon mustard, of course. If you’re a sucker for a gyros platter go for the Greek styled wraps – the wild boar sausage, sourced from the Fotiadis farm on Mount Olympus in Greece, is particularly good and tastes as, if not more, exotic. For those who still haven’t made up their minds (it happens to the best of us), Suvlaki’s burgers mixed with minced beef, pork and lamb make a great choice, packed with flavour and all garnished with fresh Greek salad.
They are generous with the feta here, so choose wisely. We’d recommend the baked feta — and the fresh fries sprinkled with oregano sourced from the beautiful mountains of Karpenisi were fantastic. The lentil salad was another palate-teasing delight, but bear in mind that any legume-based dish may have you rolling out defeated before dessert.
That said, hats off to anyone who still has room for dessert — Suvlaki do an exceptionally good chocolate biscuit cake that’s served with a wonderfully dense and moreish homemade coffee ice cream. If you’re looking for a more authentic option, go for the Greek favourite Kaimaki ice cream, made with the finest buffalo milk and mastiha ice cream.
Sometimes, just sometimes, a restaurant exceeds expectations and Suvlaki is one such place. Bringing exceptional and affordable Greek street food to the table in a sharp, contemporary setting that transports you straight to the winding cobbled streets of Greece and that can only be a good thing, surely. Book your table while you can.