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Review: The Real Greek

Although hardly a new arrival on the UK restaurant scene, having first opened its doors back in 1999, The Real Greek still stands out from other chains, both for its distinctive cuisine and avant garde approach to restaurateuring.

In recent weeks the restaurant has won attention for its decision to include the calorie content alongside each of its dishes. While the idea of this may sound off-putting to some, in reality the information is provided unobtrusively and, even for those whose selection is based on entirely different criteria, generates some fascinating points of comparison.

Who would have thought those almost identical looking bowls of taramasalata and tzatziki could differ by as much as 805kcal and 146kcal respectively? Or that whitebait could pack in a whopping 1172kcal, compared with the kalamari, which weigh in at just 247kcal. On this basis, it’s easy to see that this level of information must be a God-send to the millions in this country who want to eat out without throwing their carefully regimented diet into chaos.

More importantly, whatever your feelings on this approach, Liz Williams, managing director for The Real Greek, believes this is the future for the UK restaurant trade, saying: “I do think we’re going to go down the calorie route, whatever; you see it in the US already, but we do feel it’s quite bold to be the first here.”

But back to the food. The new summer menu takes its inspiration largely from Cretan cuisine. Alongside the familiar classics mentioned above, expect to see some more creative options, such as Octopodi Zaffrani (£5.25): a dish of fresh octopus, marinated in saffron, fennel and Greek vinegar, with some cucumber and dill thrown in for good measure. For those needing something a bit more substantial than meze, the menu offers a tempting range of Souvlaki (from £4.95), the kebab of Greek family dinners rather than the Great British night out.

The wine list is also commendably Greek in origin, with a few concessions for those who feel unable to sacrifice their Pinot Grigio or Rioja. The Silenus ‘Beta’ white (£19.00) was a crisp, refreshing match for the food, with ripe, unoaked fruit ideally suited for a relaxed summer meal.

Currently London based, The Real Greek has branches in Hoxton, Covent Garden, Bankside, Spitalfields, Marylebone, Putney and Westfield. However, Williams notes that success in the Westfield shopping centre environment “opens up a host of other opportunities in major cities.” For the moment though, if you’re in London, fancy a relaxed bite to eat and are having the usual struggle choosing from the minefield of mid-market pizza chains, then you could do a lot worse than The Real Greek.

For more information on The Real Greek, see our on-trade interview with Liz Williams in the August issue of the drinks business or visit .

Gabriel Savage, 21.07.09

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