What: Authentic Greek food
Where: 56 Wentworth street, London, E1 7AL
Why you should go there: For a taste of proper Greece in London
Favourite thing we ate: Pitta bread and dips (tzatziki, aubergine dip, houmous) and the Chicken Souvlaki.
It’s 7pm and I am sitting on a balcony looking over the Greek Island of Santorini, but only just a week ago did I have the pleasure of being invited to The Hungry Donkey, the brand new Greek restaurant in the heart of the City of London. I’ve always thought that Greek cuisine has been underestimated in the UK and not many have truly experienced the treasures of their little islands.
At Hungry Donkey I initially loved was the venue itself, as even though the space can only turn over roughly 30 seatings at a time, it was spacious and filled with natural light. I wasn’t made to feel I was in Greece at all with no tacky decorations to be seen. Where were blue and white chequered table clothes, smashing of plates, rickety wooden chairs and the live trio band of Greek men?
What I saw was a typical understated venue with a twinkle of ancestry and knowledge and I really appreciated that they weren’t trying to say ‘let me take you to Greece.’ The fact that it was bloody freezing outside and I wasn’t wearing my bikini would mean the experience would be a bit surreal and pointless.
Anyway, this review is about the food. But I wanted to give you a taster of the venue, it’s got a fab feel but wait…
The menu is minimal and to point, with 15 starters, 14 mains and a choice of 4 puddings. Following a selection of four wines of white, red and rosé. The lovely waitress advised us ‘MM’ was the best and well worth it, and it was! The wine was light in body but burst with flavour that stained our palette throughout the evening, in a good way! It was truly delicious and had interesting flavours. Apparently it’s from Santorini so I am off to the vineyards tomorrow to find it. I will succeed.
I love picky foods and sharing platters so my friend and I chose to share the Saganaki (deep fried greek cheese with lemon juice), some Pitta, the Aubergine Dip and the Tzatziki. I find that sometimes Saganaki can be too thick and greasy but they got it spot on and the dips were out of this world. I had the Chicken Souvlaki wrap for mains and although it looked slightly messy, I loved it, and wolfed it down. Being in Santorini has led me to believe that this is exactly the presentation and style of a typical Souvlaki; after all it is one of the country’s oldest dishes. For pudding we were told the cheesecake was the best so we had to give it go. To be honest, it was a bit too cheesy for me, but it was very well made and so fresh.
I was so excited to chat to Marko, the owner, about his choice of menu and wines. I found myself in awe as he told me he had only chosen the typical rustic Greek dishes that honour the flavours of Greece. Everything on this menu are the foods that a typical Greek man or woman would eat. I love this! He sources the ingredients fresh on the day, and would like to keep the menu small and seasonal so he doesn’t lose those special flavours and the freshness. He is a true Greek and I loved his style.
It is amazing isn’t it? We go into restaurants and scan through the towering menu’s but how do we know where its come from? How do we know that such a large menu can be as fresh as this little, simple but so rustic and a humble new business?
Marko and his friendly and smiley team are taking us BACK to Greece. He’s not interested in giving you experience of Greece, he’s in love with the idea of re-introducing the food, with delicious flavours and the stories behind it.
Marko, thank you, for showing me how to eat in Greek style, I will definitely be back for more, but for now I’m off to find that wine and Yia Sou! (To your health!)