Authenticity Test 101 – Did Suvlaki, Shoreditch pass?

29 Oct 2017

Growing up with dual heritage as English and Turkish Cypriot, there’s always been a special place in my heart for Mediterranean grub. So being asked to review a restaurant that prides itself on its skewered meats was only going to go one way or the other. With a grandmother who regularly stuffs me full of dolma and hellim, I’m not easy to impress when it comes to ‘my people’s food.’

However – and here’s the rub – I’m happy to report Suvlaki Shoreditch not only rose to this challenge, but it surpassed my expectations. Arriving on a Thursday evening, we were greeted by a beautifully decorated space. Worried white-wash walls here, exposed brick there, there’s even religious iconography in the form of neon lighting. So far, so Shoreditch. We started with olives, pitta and tzatziki because it would be a crime not. At £2.50, £1.50 and £3.20 respectively, these are certainly some of the cheapest nibbles you’ll get in a restaurant this central. And they really hit the spot – rejoice! Had we stumbled upon a genuinely good restaurant offering incredible value to boot? With bated breath, we waited for our small plates, signature dishes and souvlaki to arrive. And as each plate came, we grew more confident that Suvlaki was everything we’d been looking for and more.

Cheese Nibbles (£4.50) – grilled mastelo and fig marmalade in pita – were bite-sized pockets of pure joy. Pork Kritharaki (£5) – pulled pork, orzo and wild oregano – was a salty, creamy concoction designed to trigger a serotonin spike. I expected to love the Roasted Aubergine (£4.80), which combined feta, pomegranate and hazelnut, but it missed the mark. Happily, this became a distant memory when the Octopus (£7.20) arrived. Cutting its crisp outer-layer, the knife melted through the meat and married perfectly with the pureed fava, capers and parsley. We failed to spot the cream cheese accompaniment to the Chicken Kebab (£9) but who cares when the bed of black olive and salsa is that impressive? We gorged on a Mastelo and Veg (£4) mini wrap and chowed down on the silkily soft Aged Scottish Texel Lamb (£5.50), somewhat bizarrely paired with beetroot.

Clearly by this point we’d eaten too much, aided by the wonderfully concise all-Greek drinks menu; a full bodied Alpha Estate Axia 2014 red and a crisp glass of Nissos Pilsner beer stood out as clear favourites. In the name of research, we shared a dessert of Chocolate Biscuit Cake (£5.50) with homemade Greek coffee ice cream – washed down with two shots of Mastiha. Though more of a brownie or tart than a cake, it didn’t matter. I’ll be dreaming of this crunchy perfection of a dessert when faced with my next salad.

Suvlaki Shoreditch is a text book example of taking an age-old favourite cuisine and modernising it for a demanding London audience. The staff were faultless, the food was great and the atmosphere was bad and boujee. I can’t wait to go back. Yamas!

Elisse

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