Follow the river along the Southbank eastbound, and you’ll find a welcoming restaurant nestled next to The Globe. The floorplan follows the distinct linear curve of the Thames, but the menu has a distinctly Mediterranean vibe: here lies The Real Greek – Bankside.
Full disclosure shrewd reader, I’ve visited Greece a mere once in my time which means I am far from any authority on Greek food, never mind the authenticity of it. Authority I may be not, food lover I for sure am. Besides, I’m prepared to take them at face value quite literally, so what I ate over the course of the evening was real Greek grub.
My friend and I selected a range of small plates and they were brought out in succession, cold dishes first, hot dishes after. Given the weather in Blighty was Baltic, we crafted our meze mainly with hot dishes. But not before trying the melitzanosalata, a smoky aubergine appetiser that makes a great alternative dip to hummus. Accompanying it was Greek flatbread, olive oil and dukkah – ground nuts and seeds.
The next stage of the feast came at once, a stand laden high with the individual dishes. To be honest, I am amazed more restaurants don’t use this highly effective space-saver. But functionality aside, the food itself was equally satisfying.
It is not so easy to keep chicken breast tender, but The Real Greek slow roast their monastiraki, which took tenderness to a new level. It was on a bed of tzatziki and seasoned with Greek herbs. This gentle pairing made a wonderfully delicious dish.
The joy of selecting several small plates is not only that it appeases the try-everything and indecisive types like yours truly, moreover one can pick and choose what to complement other flavours with. The subtle-tasting chicken monastiraki worked well with the densely flavoured louikaniko, a beef & pork sausage. This Greek banger came alongside a smoked chilli relish, which enlivened the taste buds, in time to sample the cousins of the sea; calamari & octopus.
Whilst the octopus had been flavoured with olive oil, garlic & oregano, the calamari had a sweeter hit of paprika and honey marinade making the 2 happy bedfellows in flavour. How often these wobbly creatures of the sea become tough on our plates, but alas not here at The Real Greek.
For dessert we ventured in to the dairy delights that the Greeks do oh so well. The thick creaminess of the Greek yoghurt was mirrored in the caramel & pecan cheesecake.
The former was served with a classic combination of figs and syrup which made a delicious union of flavours that amounted to more than the sum of its parts.
The cheesecake simply held its own as the sumptuous end to a meal, the Aegean pecans rested alluringly on the caramel topping as well as running through the base.
When it comes to a prime location with flavour-packed dishes, The Real Greek hits the spot. When it comes to pronouncing those dishes, I must admit, it’s all Greek to me.
The Real Greek – Bankside
Units 1-2, Riverside House, 2A Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HA