(This venue has now closed)
It’s a cuisine we love. Aromatic flavours, fresh ingredients, un-fussy and delicious dishes. It’s a mystery why there are not more Greek restaurants and the few that we can find are not as impressive as this rather smart spot at As Greek As It Gets.
As Greek As It Gets is local to the whole of London! It’s just around the corner from Earl’s Court Underground Station so has a huge catchment area. This must be not only the best Greek restaurant in that postcode but likely the best restaurant of any culinary hue in the neighbourhood.
One thinks of Greek restaurants as those folksy establishments with shelves laden with models of blue and white fishing boats and plates printed with pictures of the Acropolis. As Greek As It Gets sports none of these dubious souvenirs (although the distinctive company logo is one of those chaps in white tights with pom-poms on his shoes). You already know it’s a Greek restaurant – the big clue is in the name. At this wintery season the only hint of blue is found in the garland of Christmas lights, and perhaps the flashing alert of a passing police car. This is London, after all.
It’s a cosy oasis with contemporary charcoal-black walls. The first floor offers views across the Earl’s Court Road. Hardly a hint of its ethnicity until one reads the menu. It’s uncompromisingly Greek with a selection of classic dishes that you might well have tasted on your sun-scorched Aegean holiday isle, but it’s probable that those pale in comparison.
The owner of As Greek As It Gets, Dimitri Karonis, opened the restaurant seven years ago after a bet with YO! Sushi founder, Simon Woodroffe, who said Dimitri wouldn’t be able to open a successful Greek restaurant in London. Not sure what the prize was, but perhaps it’s the undeniable success of the restaurant itself. Dimitri is deservedly proud of his achievements, making serious Greek food accessible to Londoners.
Yes, this restaurant has one of the best locations in town but 40% of the clientele are native Greeks. Now, these folks know more about authentic Greek food than I ever will and they choose to come here. They appreciate the food and ambiance and that must surely be an accolade. The reasonable prices must also contribute to the evident draw.
This restaurant deserves several visits. One scans the menu and selects a little of this, a dish of that, but it’s all so enticing that as soon as the waiter disappears one wonders if perhaps that cheese pie might have been worth a try (it would) or if that fish might have been memorable (it would). But that’s the beauty of being a local – one can come back and there won’t be any last-night-of-Grecian-holiday blues. It’s that colour again.
We settled on some traditional dips to start. Tzatziki – yoghurt, garlic and cucumber dip – is particularly thick and rich here. Dimitri buys many of his key ingredients from Greece and even the bread is flown in part-baked. The Romano Peppers stuffed with feta and spinach are a speciality here. They are sweet, flavourful and the filling is substantial and well-balanced. A worthy signature dish.
Garides Saganaki – prawns cooked in ouzo, feta and tomato sauce – is probably one of the most moreish starters I have ever had. My advice would be to order one portion each rather than considering sharing. It’s bound to end in a fight or at the very least a grudging counting of prawns and harsh words. Don’t miss this dish of succulent seafood and tangy sauce.
For my main course I chose the delicious and attractively presented Pork with a cheese sauce. The rounds of meat were tender and juicy and the sauce gave a striking sharp note. A contemporary and light boardful.
The star of the meal was Arnaki lemonato – lamb in rich lemon sauce served with mashed potatoes. Dimitri says this is a reminder of his family dinners back in Greece when he was a child. This looks just what it is – a plate of home cooking. It’s a dish that reminds one why Greek cuisine is so appealing. This is traditional food and this recipe has been enjoyed for generations.
Galaktoboureko – home made milk pie – is a classic dessert. It’s a thick custard cooked with semolina and encased in delicate and crispy philo pastry. It’s not an over-decorated and elaborate confection but it’s easy to see why it’s on the menu. It’s a sweet pie of simple ingredients but it ticks all the ‘craving’ boxes. Worth saving a little space for.
As Greek As It Gets is remarkable in an understated fashion. It’s subtle, tasteful in every regard, and the prices will please. It’s a gem with dishes for every palate and you will enjoy Greek food that’s as good as it gets and As Greek As It Gets. For my next visitI have my eye on Tyrokafteri – spicy mixed Greek white cheese dip – and the chicken gyros plate with pita and tzatziki, and then just a little taste more of that Galaktoboureko; although it would be rude not to try Baklava…
As Greek as it Gets
233 Earl’s Court Road
London, SW5 9AH
[This venue is now closed]
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018