Greek food has long been the forgotten cuisine of the London restaurant scene. But now, thanks to new Greek eaterie Opso, the latest addition to London's bustling foodie district Marylebone, it's about to get its turn in the limelight. Grazia's Associate Editor Lucy Dunn went along to check it out.
'I'm not quite sure when sharing plates became such a big trend but it seems like it's here to stay. More restaurants are now offering pick and mix menus of tapas-size dishes. Ordering four or five different plates of dishes instead of just one divides opinion, because when it boils down to it, you’re either a sharing plate person or you aren’t. If you like a nice big plate of food, all to yourself, it can be hard. Try to get into the spirit if you can; don’t growl at your dining partner’s fork heading your way. Do quiz the waiting staff on how many dishes will be enough (portions vary greatly, you wouldn’t want to be left hungry). And don’t be possessive - setting up a mini barbed wire fence round your plate with a ‘Keep Out’ sign is just not nice.
Me, I like sharing plates. They suit my need to taste everything, and also to go a little ‘off-piste’ and be more adventurous in my food choices. I strayed a little too far with this week’s restaurant spot, Opso, but that’s my fault, not theirs, and I’ll come back to that later.
Opso is a new Greeks tapas restaurant in London’s Marylebone. One of my favourite parts of town (along with Bloomsbury) it’s an area that’s definitely having a moment, with new restaurants Chiltern Firehouse and Fischer’s, as well as the new Corbin & King, and Zetter hotels moving in early next year. The area is still a lovely mix of business and residential, boutiques and family-owned shops, London boozers and gastro pubs, greasy spoons and delis. Not too chi-chi, not too cool. Friendly and buzzy.
Opso fits in well. Its' strapline is ‘Social Food’ and walking into the restaurant you get this vibe. The menu is by Michelin-starred chefs Georgianna Hiliadaki and Nikos Roussos, and is headed up by the former Head Chef of Princi, Stefanos Avdis. With its friendly staff and simple menu, high stools and sharing tables, it’s a world away from a traditional plate-smashing Greek restaurant. If you’re partial to an artful fish net arrangement or stuffed fish in a frame, this isn’t the restaurant for you.
Greek coleslaw, Feta cheese, Cocktails, Grouper Tartare
Opso isn’t for you if you’re a Greek food purist either. The menu comprises of small plate dishes or mezédes, each one with Hellenic roots but given a modern twist. Traditional Greek dishes such as Greek salad and Greek coleslaw are refreshed for the modern age – with great success. The Sunflower cocktail comes with a splash of Rakomelo, a blend of the anise-flavoured spirit Raki and honey.
Standout highlights included the Feta cheese, barrel-matured creamy feta you dipped with freshly-baked sourdough bread. Yummy. Dressed with lime green olive oil and topped with pinky-red red pepper it looked unbelievably pretty. The Grouper Tartare was perfect too. Putting together a fish tartare with all the flavours of a traditional Greek salad was a combination that worked. Maybe it was me but I found the Cod Tempura a little underwhelming, although the skordalia it was served with – mashed and whipped potato spiked with garlic and lemon - more than made up for it.
My one regret was the Snail and Chips. But this was me, not the dish. I’ve never had snails before, but I now know I’m a snail wimp. Hands up, I won’t be trying them again. My other regret was not having room for pudding. I was told later that the Walnut Cake is sublime.
I can’t end this review without mentioning the friendly and accommodating Opso staff, as so often it’s the people as much as the food. One of the biggest things is that Opso has mastered is the art of not just cooking but serving sharing plates. So often I have gone to restaurants where the plates have come out in sporadic waves; sometimes all at once, sometimes in such fits and starts you’ve almost lost the urge to eat by the end. Opso got it right. They also got the order right; they thought about what plates to bring out which would work together. Bravo.
Opso, 10 Paddington St, W1U 5QL, Marylebone, London, 0207 487 5088