Last week I was lucky enough to sample (and devour) The Real Greek’s limited edition vegan specials. In celebration of ‘cleansing’ Greek lent (Sarakosti), came the launch of three new expertly assembled ‘Veg-iterranean’ dishes, crafted by the face of the restaurant Tonia Buxton. Considering my experience in Greek food is very little, I can say my first proper tasting of it was ‘real’ good.
“Sarakosti is a much-loved Greek custom, which sees those that follow it hold back from meat, fish and alcohol to cleanse both the body and mind. During the forty-day ‘Greek lent,’ the focus is on eating ‘cleansing’ vegan and vegetarian dishes.”
I took my vegan-loving sister along with me to sample the menu, and upon arriving at the restaurant we were greeted with smiles and a handshake from the restaurant manager, who then escorted us to a private booth at the back of the restaurant. Our waiter, Adam, who was brilliant, then quickly arrived at our table with a friendly face and much ease. Adam was very accommodating and nothing was too much trouble, even going to lengths to offer us more food and more drink, with lots of encouragement.
The three dishes we were there to try were:
- Mouth-watering Spicy Roast Aubergine with Chickpeas, slow cooked with cherry tomatoes, chilli and dill.
- Scrumptious Aubergine and Potato Stack with a rich garlic tomato sauce
- Wholesome baked butter beans Gigandes Plaki with Spinach.
With the encouragement of Adam to basically try everything, that we did. We added Houmous as suggested, Dolmades, Green Pea Fava, Htipiti, Tzatziki and more. Lots of dips, which did not disappoint. My favourite was the Tzatziki, a cool and tangy Greek yoghurt with cucumber and garlic.
Greek food is much like Spanish tapas, only in the sense of the sizing of the dishes. After ordering enough food for about 4 people (there were 2 of us) we were slightly concerned whether we could fit that much in. However, the dishes that arrived were not as big as we feared, and we somehow ate the majority of it. All I can say is #foodbaby.
SPICY ROAST AUBERGINE WITH CHICKPEAS
Fresh, simple and delicious. The word ‘spicy’ scares me slightly, as any hint of it quickly gives me watery eyes, however this was not as spicy as I supposed and only had a small after kick, which was fine by me. The chickpeas mixed with aubergine and tomatoes were a great combination, complimenting each other well. It had more sauce than expected, which I really enjoyed as I much prefer a saucy dish than a dry one. Tasty, succulent and simple.
AUBERGINE & POTATO STACK
I hate to say this, but I wasn’t blown away by this dish. I wanted so badly to love it but it just needed slightly more flavour and was overpowered by a hint of bitterness from the skin. Despite this and as suggested on the menu, it went great with the Green Pea Fava, which had a houmous type texture, and was even approved by my pea-hating sister. The garlic, parsley and tomato sauce that accompanied it was also delicious and worked great with the dish. I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt in this situation and just hope that I will love it, and not just like it, next time.
GIGANDES PLAKI WITH SPINACH
Now onto our favourite dish (I was saving the best 'til last). Butter beans - I don't think I realised until this very evening how much I loved them. They are just so creamy and succulent. Served with spinach, onion, garlic, parsley and a tomato sauce this dish was almost like a twist on a Ratatouille, but MUCH better. I love tomato sauces so this was an instant success, so tasty, flavoursome and just yum! Definitely our favourite and I will be returning just to have this dish again. If you only try one dish on the ‘Veg-iterranean’ menu, you MUST try this one.
I can’t finish this without giving a special shout out to the Tiropitakia - so so good. Handmade filo pastry parcels with creamy leeks, spinach and feta filling. Not vegan, but vegetarian, great (as suggested by Adam) with the sweet chilli dip. My mouth is watering just thinking about them, so creamy and they just melt in your mouth. The Greek Flatbread with Olive Oil & Dukkah (a spicy mix of ground roasted nuts and seeds) was great to start, as well as the Salmon & Prawn Skewers as an addition to the mains, and the Tzatziki as a dip to go with everything was perfect.
At the end of the evening, we were brought over a lovely surprise, in the form of a delicious and sweet red dessert wine, which was delightful. An overall great experience at The Real Greek Stratford. The atmosphere was homely and quirky and the service was super fast. A big thank you goes out to our waiter Adam, who was lovely and so accommodating. I think I need to find some more adjectives in my vocabulary but it’s the word of the hour, The Real Greek is… DELICIOUS.
The Veg-iterranean Menu is available from 27th February to 15th April
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