Every time I hear anything related to Greece, I start to see everything in constellations. I still dream of vacations on Greek islands, Greek cocktails and Greek coffee when the mornings hit hard.
The Village Greek, a small Greek restaurant in the Sam Levy Village, features a menu that’s well rooted in the classics. Anyone who’s enjoyed Greek dining once or twice will find the menu more familiar than not.
There can only be so many restaurants trying to be the next “It” because there’s always another one opening, but The Village Greek bases its foundation on what they are and where they are. Open since December 2015 under the management of Paul Sinclair and his partners John and Alex Babiolakis, they used their skills and Greek inheritance to open a Greek-themed restaurant for the surrounding captive market.
While cookbooks are the harlots of our bookshelves, some places lack originality, serving people mediocre straight-out-of-cookbook meals, The Village Greek is deeply rooted in original expertise and excellent service.
The arrival at the restaurant front, is a neat arrangement of tables in their outside space — facing the relentless rhythm of the village life. Somehow, just sitting there gives the odd feeling of being slightly disjointed from the world, then the realisation that the place has been fully booked since Mother’s Day!
It has come to my knowledge that Mediterranean diets hit their strides in the early 1990s when celebrities and pundits started extolling the virtue of salads with cheese and oil, marinades with lemon pepper, garlic and yes, olive oil.
It was a rejection of dishes heavy with butter and cream, the joys of this kind of dining were old news to the Greek who had been cooking that way for centuries.
When in a Greek restaurant, it’s appropriate to eat like Greeks, which usually starts with a spread of appetisers. Their Mesedakia appetisers include Tzatziki which is traditional Greek yoghurt dip with cucumbers and garlic. Humus, is blended chickpeas with lemon, olive oil and garlic.
Or better yet, Oktopodi Xidato (marinated octopus). It’s okay to bite my tongue at pronouncing these and eating them, I really do not mind. Meals from the main course include the Mezze Platters, designed to share between 2 or 3. The traditional Meze platter is inclusive of beef dolmades, tiropites, prawns, calamari and Souvlakia (Chicken, pork, Bifteki and haloumi).
The Greek Village meals are authentic, it’s all about simple flavours. The food is a mixture of direct Greek ingredients and local ingredients.
“People believe that pasta is Italian without acknowledging the presence of Greek pasta. It’s quite popular in Greece as well,” Paul said, marking their need to introduce pasta.
I personally never thought it possible to have Greek pasta, the addition to the menu just allows the customer to have a wide variety suitable for their needs.
The selection of wines by the glass or bottles, also carries a variety of both Greek wines and local options. Their Greek beers are better to die for!
With a total of 20 employees in both their locations, Paul highlights the importance of getting the introverts (kitchen) and extroverts (front of the house) to work together in order to deliver good service.
“It’s very important to provide excellent service. What you have to do is to find a way to manage your staff and make sure they are happy, while also keeping your customers satisfied. Customers are looking for good food, authenticity and good service. You need to balance that.”
To top it off, feel no rush, slide inside to a small deli haven stocked with a selection of quality assorted and imported products that they do not usually cook.
Carrying any of these products and acquiring them at reasonable prices is bringing a bit of Greek culture into your home or office. They sell a wide variety of imported coffees and a whole lot more. I mean, I still have my eyes set on their Greek energy bars and chocolates . . . and the beer, a whole lot!
The Village Greek customers choose this place over other restaurants mainly because of the Greek factor, the takeaway delivery service and obviously, because of the good food.
If ever I was scheduled for the electric chair and my last meal was authorised to Paul, he would feed me their famous roast lamb, which also comes as a Greek Easter special. Now, clearly, I do not need to be scheduled for death when I can just die from their Paidakia or Greek style lamb chops grilled to perfection and seasoned with oregano and lemon by choice.
I’d like to die a certain Greek way that involves dining on Greek cuisine. Once you spoil yourself the Greek way, you might never need to go back!