What? From the family behind the likes of Zuma, Roka and Oblix at The Shard, Greek food haven Meraki brings the hospitable sharing ethos and premium seasonal ingredients of Greece to London.
New? Yes, but already gaining traction as a standout Greek eatery. Opened in July 2017.
Where? 80-82 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 7QT. www.meraki-restaurant.com
On the Menu: The menu keeps as close to real Greek mealtimes as possible, and to that end, no meal begins without a couple of pre-starter snacks from the Mezze section. Whet your appetite – and save it during the day for a feast fit for the gods – with warm herbed pitta bread alongside dips and spreads like taramosalata and hummus with smoked eel and toasted buckwheat seeds. The real starters to follow feature a range of fresh and/or raw seafood, salads and hot mezze dishes, such as prawn ceviche, beluga lentil salad, octopus BBQ and keftedes (grilled meatballs with lemon and tahini sauce). Mains include pasta as well as sea and land produce, like courgette and feta spaghetti with mint, lemon zest and garlic oil; seabass; lamb chops and beef fillet kebab with yogurt harissa and herb salad. The sharing theme runs throughout – so pass it around and load up your plate with a bit of everything.
The Look: Wander a few streets away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street (we had to fight our way through a growing crowd of break dancers…) and you’ll find Meraki. With only the logo as identification you could unknowingly saunter past it, but the warm lighting, the buzz of the interior (seen through floor-to-ceiling windows) and the sounds, smells and energy coming from the open kitchen get your attention. With exposed brick walls, pendant lighting and smooth tunes, tables for four fill the centre of the rustic yet stylish interior, with leather two-seaters lining one side and a bar overlooking the kitchen on the other. Not only does this side show the chefs hard at work, it also displays a prominent ice bath filled with seafood – having a whole seabass brought to the table to inspect isn’t out of the ordinary.
What We Ate: We were hungrily anticipating our Greek feast and wanted an authentic taste of Greece based on our waiter’s recommendations. And we weren’t disappointed – what we thought might be a few small plates (there was nothing sneaky about our peeking at food from nearby tables) ended up being a full-blown four-course feast. There’s a Sparta me that wants to say it was too much, but in truth it was too delicious to put the fork down. (Word of warning: don’t wear your tightest jeans).
We started with Santorini fava (hummus using a different kind of chickpea) and tirokafteri (barrel aged feta, chilli and smoked walnuts) on warm pitta, before diving into a bowl of Santorini cherry tomatoes with thyme, caper leaves and goats cheese, and spicy courgette tempura with tzatziki. Also squeezed onto our table was a delectable plate of gyros mini tacos, containing incredibly tender pork belly with onion, yogurt and paprika sauce. And the main event hadn’t even begun. Next up was one of the most flavourful pasta dishes we’d known, rooster ‘pastitsio’ (homemade ravioli with layers of rooster – more flavourful than hen – plus tomato chutney and truffle béchamel) and grouper ‘spanakorizo’, a mouth-watering combination of spinach risotto, dill, lemon and fennel topped with a tender fillet of grouper. At this point a dessert seemed unlikely, but it would be rude not to, so we ended with a pavlova – Greek yogurt (what else) topped with meringue, honey and berries.
What We Drank: After a long week, there was one word ringing in our ears – wine. We shared a bottle of Mouhtaro, a dry red from Muses Estate which proved an excellent accompaniment to our food. The Greek provenance doesn’t stop at food and Meraki’s wine list features a range of Greek wines from independent growers. And true to their word, Mouhtaro is a rare red grape variety grown exclusively in the area of Askri, central Greece.
Go With: The décor and hospitality here make it ideal for intimate dinners with small groups of friends or family. It’s hard not to be impressed by the food, so if you’re looking for a satisfying meal with hearty portions this is the place – though it would work for smaller bites over drinks with clients too.
Final Word: With its title translating as putting love and soul into what you’re doing, Meraki’s founders are not lying – this establishment goes the extra mile in sourcing the very best of Greece’s produce to deliver flavours like no other. The service is of equally high calibre, with clear knowledge and passion on the part of the staff. That said, it is anything but stuffy – Meraki feels high end but still pulls off the warm, friendly atmosphere and sharing hospitality of an authentic Greek restaurant.
Meraki: 80-82 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 7QT