A potentially remarkable revival of an almost unknown Greek restaurant, in Fitzrovia, established in 1936; its interior is one of the most impressive in the West End, and the food is good too, but any sense of occasion is still lacking.
ot often we get to review a restaurant that opened in 1936, and still in the ownership of the founding family (third generation). Compared not just to Paris, but even to New York, London is horribly short of restaurants with heritage. And that’s not the only slightly unusual thing about this Fitzrovia revival: the recent refurbishment has given this Georgian townhouse one of the best restaurant interiors in London (better, in our view, than either L’Escargot or Christopher’s – the two most obvious West End competitors).
The reworking, by a little-known outfit called Dom Interiors, has given the building a slightly Deco-ish feel: doesn’t sound as if it should ‘work’, but it does. The spaces include not only three dining rooms and a potentially rather splendid cocktail bar but also a feature which may well be unique in central London – a large and elegant roof garden, with retractable roof, up on the first floor.
The overall aim is apparently to achieve a ‘cosmopolitan’ feel, and that has been realised successfully. What there were not, at least on the lunchtime we visited, was much in the way of people, cosmopolitan or otherwise. In fact, we had one of the dining rooms to ourselves.
Perhaps they’re busier on their Greek entertainment evenings, but surely the amount of investment that must have gone into this lovely building requires more than a couple of handfuls of lunchtime customers? Our charming waitress said they had been open for a month or so in the new format, so it’s hardly as if it was ‘day 1’.
There was nothing wrong with the food, either. The menu mainly proposes small plates with a Greek influence. Given the scale of the operation, it makes sense to deliver robust food that’s going to survive the journey from kitchen to table, and the dishes here passed the test. We enjoyed grilled vegetables and a pot roast quail, with the occasional real highlight – the squid was notably tender and flavoursome.
The absence of a lunchtime set menu, however, suggests that the owners don’t see much need to drive customers in. Perhaps more tellingly, though, they don’t especially seem to value those they have.
As we left, we passed three people hunched over the front desk computer, one of them seemingly a proprietor. We prepared to say goodbye, and perhaps to be interrogated on what we thought of the new establishment, whether our meal had gone well, and whether we worked locally. As things turned out, however, whatever was on the screen was of much more interest than the customers, and we slipped away into Fitzrovia‘s lunchtime mêlée entirely unobserved.