Meraki in Fitzrovia: A contemporary take on unmistakably Greek dishes
It could be fair to say that Greek cuisine doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves, with other European restaurants often swooping in for the spotlight. However, Meraki are here to challenge this notion, branding themselves as “a contemporary Greek restaurant located in the heart of Fitzrovia”.
Once inside the restaurant, you’ll notice that the trendy decor, simplistic furnishings and bright, airy space is certainly a far cry from your traditional taverna – having said that, the atmosphere was lively, and the restaurant soon started to fill up after we arrived.
So, what about the food? A quick scan over the menu and it was clear that Meraki’s objective was to strike a balance between the modern and traditional. While I could see where they were going with this, I was hoping that this wouldn’t mean sacrificing the soul and charm that Greek food so famously embodies.
We started with a selection of mezze dishes to share, which we were told was “the Greek way”. We had the Grilled Aubergine “Melitzanosalata” prepared with lemon tahini, coriander and chilli, served with different types of pitta bread. We also had a Mykonian Greek Salad which consisted of cucumbers, kritamo, tomatoes, olives and feta drizzled in lashings of olive oil.
We then moved onto some of the warm appetisers. The Dolmades – stuffed vine leaves with rice and herbs (a delicacy I normally consider average at best) actually turned out to be a pleasant surprise. These were absolutely delicious, packed full of flavour and had a good consistency, in that they didn’t completely fall apart on the plate. I had been converted.
We then had the Greek-style rosti which is one of the restaurant’s specialities. This dish definitely got full marks for visuals and was quite the centre of attention as the waitress fussed over it, breaking apart the sunny-side-up eggs that were nestled on top and adding some grated truffle to give it that final touch. For me, all the flavours were there but I struggled a little with the deep-fried, overly crisp consistency of the potatoes.
Next, we had the Saganaki Shrimps served with an Ouzo and tomato sauce. The shrimps were firm, sweet and cooked in a rich and hearty sauce. We also tasted the barbequed octopus served with oregano vinaigrette, grilled onions and capers. Cut up into pieces, the octopus took on a really smoky flavour and had been crisped around the edges, giving it a slightly caramelised finish – one of my favourites from the mezze-style plates.
Furthermore, we tried the charcoal-grilled Lamb Chops with baked aubergine and hummus. The lamb was perfectly tender and sweet, a tell-tale sign it had been cooked well as most of the flavour came from the meat itself. The baked aubergine and hummus also added some additional fragrant notes.
For dessert, the Loukoumades Greek Doughnuts were served with mastic ice cream and three different toppings: sugar, honey and nuts; and chocolate sauce. These came generously portioned, but the doughnuts turned out to be light and airy and were dangerously moreish as we happily dipped away.
We also had the Lacta Chocolate Fondant served with olive oil ice cream. Although the bitter chocolate helped to counteract the sweetness, it was still incredibly rich and decadent – everything the pudding should be.
If you’re looking for a cosy, traditional Greek taverna then perhaps you’re better nipping over to the continent. However, what Meraki manages to do is take Hellenic cuisine and make it relevant within a fast-paced London setting – something that’s not easy to achieve. Though modernised, the dishes still retain enough authenticity to make them unmistakably Greek.
Alex Julie Woods
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Meraki, 80-82 Great Titchfield Street Fitzrovia London W1W 7QT, call 020 7305 7686 or visit their website here.