Theodore Kyriakou is an old hand, with great taste in spectacles. He was instrumental in 1999 in introducing Londoners to a world of Greek food away from the standard kebab, chips and salad formula, sensibly choosing bargain sites. The Real Greek opened in Hoxton Market when the area was edgy. Before this, Livebait in 1995 was the Old Vic theatre’s nearest restaurant in The Cut near Waterloo station. No pricey Soho or Covent Garden rents for this man. That has been left to the buyers who have developed small chains out of both concepts.
The Greek Larder follows the original trend. People have only just become aware there is now a whole restaurant area behind Kings Cross Station sprawled out along the back of Granary Square which 3 years ago, did not even exist. The cognoscenti go to a concert at nearby Kings Place and have their pick to eat out at Caravan, Grain Store or the third branch of Dishoom up on the far side.
Kyriakou has chosen a site, slightly off piste from this, just up a notch on York Way over Regent’s Canal. As usual with him it is the quality which will bring people in rather than passing trade. And it’s all building up nicely. Guardian journalists have lunch meetings and Barnsbury residents attend in the evenings.
The fit out is taverna-ish with bare stone flags which can seem chilly on a winter’s day by the front modern glass windows, but cosy at the back next to the open cooking.
Laid over this is much plywood: shelves are suspended from the ceiling and across the windows as storage display for Greek products. The counter displays much of which is used on the menu: taramasalata, cured meats, and Greek cheese. Homemade baklava and Turkish (Greek?) delight sit under domes or in packages. And of course Greek olive oil, all at very reasonable prices.
A well chosen selection of Greek wines and beers is also available to take away.
So what about the menu? For me the most attractive section is the Meze and Desserts, but I’m not a big main course fan, and the small plate items are so delicious that I’ve never got any further. I always have the elephant beans, the earthiness of which is “cut” beautifully by a triangular slab of barrel aged feta, accompanied by a wedge of smoky chargrilled fennel. At other times, the ethereal texture of the taramasalata is tempting, and I always have to leave room for the baklava with Greek mountain tea ice cream, which has the perfect balance of sweetness.
You can always tell the intelligence of a restaurant by its bread. Here it comes from Elliot’s Cafe in Bermondsey which says it all. Go and say hello to the friendly staff and discover it now before the crowds do.
1, York Way
London N1C 4AS
020 3780 2999