Greko, Beverley: Our reviewers pays a visit to the new Greek restaurant which has made a flying start
For reasons I can’t fathom, there currently seems to be a surfeit of Greek restaurants in the East Riding. Over the past decade they appear to have proliferated in (mainly) Hull and Beverley but they’re also to be found in Driffield and Brid and even some of the smaller villages.
I’m not complaining – who doesn’t like having easy access to baklava? – but I’ve not a clue why Greece seems to be providing the real boom cuisine at the moment. Harder than ever, then, it is to make your Grecian offering stand out amongst the burgeoning competition.
New kid on the block Greko, recently opened in Beverley’s Wednesday Market, would appear to be attempting to differentiate itself by making the best food. An admirable and sensible goal and – judging by the dishes I’ve so far enjoyed there – one they’re achieving with aplomb.
I say Greko is new, but there is a degree of pedigree. Two successful takeaways already operate under the name in Hull and this recently opened restaurant is simply a logical extension of the brand.
A step-up the sit-down may be, but owner/ manager Kostas Sechai appears entirely unfazed by his first turn in the big chair.
The Greko family includes Kostas and his brother and another pair of (unrelated) brothers and they all seem to wrangle the takeaways and restaurant collectively. It’s a proper multi-family affair, with many of the dishes designed to mimic the food made for decades by parents and grandparents back home.
We visit at lunch, when Beverley is at its most active. The restaurant is at the neck of Butcher Row, Beverley’s busiest shopping street, so passing trade is absolutely not a problem. All Kostas and his team have to do is not mess up and punters should flood in.
Not only are they not messing up, though, they are truly excelling. Everything placed in front of us is as good as I’ve ever had in a Greek restaurant and a couple are as good as I’ve ever had anywhere. Just a few weeks after opening, Greko is already flying.
Dishes come as and when they’re ready and you’re encouraged to order more throughout the meal if you want them. We ignored the second part of this advice, though, and ordered everything all at once.
Judging by the look on the waiter’s face he either thought we were brave or insane, hard to tell which. Dishes soon started to appear with welcome rapidity.
We began dunking the perfect pitta bread into melitzanosalata (an aubergine, garlic and parsley dip) and tirokafteri, a spicy feta and red pepper dip. Both were great but second of these was superb. It had a real zing to it but was also smoky and sweet.
Imam bayildi – roast aubergine stuffed with (I think) garlic, onion and tomatoes – was cooked so the texture of the aubergine was almost unrecognisable, leaving a delicious, moreish mush.
Best dish on the table was feta tempura. Three oblongs of deep-fried feta served with a savoury/ sweet jam. Quite spectacular. Like the best seaside doughnuts you’ve ever had. One bite and I could have sworn I was on Cleethorpes pier tearing into a bag of freshly-made sugary doughnuts. I don’t know if that’s the effect intended but I had to be stopped from ordering another plateful.
One of the few Greek words I recognised on the menu – keftedakia – were announced as they arrived to be mama’s homemade meatballs. No idea from whose mama they derive but they must have been a very happy child, stuffing those little juicy balls of pork into their necks all their life.
A chicken souvlaki arrived, open. Not tried one in this format before but, naturally, it works just as well as when it’s wrapped up.
Last on the savoury section came a fantastic spanakoptika (the familiar filo pie stuffed with spinach and – in this case – mizithra cheese) and a dish I’d never heard of before, Spanakorizo. As you can probably work out from the name, it’s a sort of spinach risotto.
I don’t know if it’s how it’s traditionally made or someone in the kitchen has a very strong squeezing hand but my spanakorizo was the lemoniest thing I’ve ever eaten. So strong was the lemon taste that I wondered if it was possibly to overdose on citrus fruit.
At one point I thought it was going to make me hallucinate. Once I was used to the extreme lemon blast, though, it became clear that the dish is as much about the heavy citrus flavour as the rice or spinach. By halfway through, I was totally sold on the dish.
By the end of it all, the waiter had to admit we knew what we were doing when ordering. He’d clearly well underestimated my ability to scoff. We finished with a Greek coffee each along with servings of a large baklava (served with ice cream and a pistachio sauce) and a handsome chunk of the gorgeous sticky, juicy orange cake called portokalopita.
If you do decide to visit Greko, treat yourself to feta tempura and portokalopita. They make a perfect light lunch and are two of the nicest things I’ve eaten this year. There is, in fact, nothing we ate that I wouldn’t heartily recommend. Prices are pretty competitive for Beverley so you really have no excuse to not pop in.
Greko isn’t perfect. The music is played distractingly loud, the service is a little slow and I have a couple of other minor niggles. These, however, can be easily be written off as a new restaurant finding its feet.
The menu is great, the food is superb and the pricing is fair; that’s more than enough to make up for a few piddling negatives that – I don’t doubt – will be ironed out before I visit again. And visit again I will, as soon as my lemon levels return to something like normal.
Drinks choice 4/5
Greko, Beverley, 2 Wednesday Market, Beverley HU17 0DG. Tel 01482 680868. Open: Tue to Sat 12-9.