Five new openings to watch as a new wave of Greek restaurants hits the UK

Egg Soldiers delves into the menus of five Greek restaurants that have caught the eye as the UK welcomes a number of new eateries looking to further establish the Mediterranean cuisine in 2023
A selection of modern greek dishes
While a well-loved cuisine among consumers, with the Mediterranean country a favourite among holidaymakers every year; Greek food is still yet to really make its mark on the UK restaurant sector.

Over the past decade, independent family-run eateries, The Real Greek restaurant chain (and a couple of other smaller operations), a flock of street food operators, and a smattering of modern Greek approaches have enjoyed moderate successes while Italian, Asian and American chains dominate city streets.

There was something of a push towards a greater Greek footprint in London around 2015, driven by the arrival of casual dining brands such as The Hungry Donkey, Greek Larder and Suvlaki. It proved to be a false dawn, however, with Greek cuisine remaining far from being a noteworthy food trend.

Fast-forward to today, and there's a growing pile of evidence to suggest Greek cuisine is far from finished in terms of attempting to establish itself as a key part of the UK's restaurant scene, with new openings once again on the rise across London.

Then there's The Real Greek, which is set for expansion across both the UK and internationally as part of Japanese food conglomerate Toridoll's purchase of Fulham Shore (the group that also manages pizza chain Franco Manca).

“Franco Manca and The Real Greek both do what they do very well and consistently,” our Head of Trends, Kateline Porritt, told William Reed's MCA Insight last month.

“They are reliable brands that are authentic enough to their respective cuisines to be exported; that is, they are not too niche or Anglicised. The best thing about the two restaurants is they are not trendy in a faddy way, which means they have staying power. The trend they are riding is that of simplicity and accessibility.”

Egg Soldiers' Insights Lab is now hard at work analysing the potential growth of Greek cuisine in the UK as new restaurant entries continue to emerge, with a focus on the key menu offerings, current consumer drivers and priorities when eating out, and what broader opportunities there might be for innovation teams in 2024.

Here, we highlight five of those entries, with traditional rustic, modern takes, and fusion among the routes being explored by this new wave of Greek restaurateurs.
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Fin-to-gill Greek seafood, Marylebone
Launching this summer, Kima is to be a modern Greek seafood restaurant with a zero-waste philosophy and focus on fish butchery.

Named after the Greek word for 'wave', Kima will operate within a 30-cover space, with diners able to choose day-boat seafood from a dedicated counter.

The Kima chefs will use every part of the fish, with bones and spines, for example, made into broths; heads simply grilled; tails lightly fried and served with aioli; and charred fish collars served with extra virgin olive oil and lemon.

Beyond the butchery, the menu features innovative twists on Greek food classics, such as taramas with crispy cod roe and an olive tuile; homemade fisherman’s pie with octopus & fava purée au gratin; and 'Seaweed Baklavas': a nori phyllo, coffee custard, clove and cinnamon dessert.

Esti @ TT Liquor
Mediterranean soul food, Shoreditch
In March, Greek/Australian restaurant Esti started a six-month residency in the kitchen at Shoreditch bar, TT Liquor, with the team delivering fire-cooked casual Greek fare led by seasonal British ingredients, supported by a selection of indigenous Australian herbs and spice blends.

Highlights from its menu include the Saganaki Toastie, comprising Ossau-Iraty sheep's cheese, rainforest lime, thyme and British blossom honey; and charred lamb ribs with lemon and 'desert dust'.

The menu also has a dedicated 'For the Soul' section, aligning with ongoing comfort food trends, that includes 'Ice Cream', comprising Charisma Koroneiki olive oil parfait, lemon aspen confit and Murray River salt; and Galaktoboureko - a traditional semolina custard-based dessert - described as 'mum's recipe' with pashmak, an Iranian candy floss.
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Greek-Italian fusion, Mayfair
This high-end banqueting restaurant, the latest from renowned restaurateur Richard Caring, launched at the end of 2022, with the menu a lavish blend of Greek and Italian cuisines enjoyed by diners in an opulent, artistic Mayfair dining room.

It's Bacchus Feasting menu features Halibut Spetsiota, a high-end spin on the classic Greek fish recipe from the island of Spetses; a classic lamb souvlaki with yoghurt, cucumber and mint salad; and a £140 wood-fired lamb with thyme sauce, lamb jus and wild oregano for the whole table.

The Greek influence also rings true on its Sunday brunch menu, which includes a Greek Hash Brown comprising diced potatoes, fried eggs, Greek sausage, feta cheese and tomato in a pepper sauce; with Tsipouro, a traditional Greek pomace brandy, playing a leading role in its Bloody Mary.

Rustic Greek, Holland Park
Vori, a neighbourhood Greek restaurant in West London, was born from the ashes of Hungry Donkey, with the original team launching the new venture in January 2023 - a month after the previous venture closed its doors.

We caught the news last year, delving into the few launch dishes that had been revealed at the time. The full menu is an ode to classic, rustic Greek, with the team making no moves to veer away from age-old staples, serving instead to introduce guests to a wider array of Greek dishes.

These include Manouri (grilled Manouri sheep's/goat's cheese with homemade tomato jam); Spanakorizo (a vegan rice and spinach dish with sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms); and Kaimaki (traditional Greek ice cream with tahini and wild thyme honey).

Taverna Meraki
Traditional Greek, Leamington
Taverna Meraki, a new Greek restaurant in the West Midlands, has an interesting origin story.

Launched by Warwickshire pub group, Pug Pubs, in May; the Taverna Meraki concept was born during lockdown, with co-founders Matt and Alex Crowther starting up a Greek food delivery service after they realised the "pub offering did not translate well to delivery and we needed to come up with something new."

“Customers loved the gyros, souvlaki and other authentic Greek dishes we served up," Matt said in an interview in March.

"When lockdown was lifted, we toured the business around various food shows, with a similar response from customers. It was amazing to see how well it did, and many people asked us where they could go for a sit-down meal. That was when we realised we needed a permanent restaurant."

Menu highlights include Loukaniko, a traditional Greek sausage comprising pork, leek, garlic and coriander, served with a mustard dip; and homemade lamb bifteki (burgers) with feta, mint yoghurt, salad, grilled pitta and homemade fries.

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