authentic street food specialities inspired by the traditional flavours of Greece, executed with contemporary tastes in mind.
Having been furloughed from my day job at the end of March this year due to the government lockdown, I have had a lot more free time on my hands to be able to cook decent meals at home, and yet the amount I have been spending on takeaways over the last few months seems to have skyrocketed…Go figure? With so many local restaurants now offering takeaway services the sheer amount of choices available to us now means that rather than slaving away in the kitchen, I have probably spent hours perusing the various takeaway websites trying to decide what I fancy eating. Recently, whilst browsing on Deliveroo, The Athenian caught my eye. A new kid on the block offering authentic Greek street food such as Souvlaki and Gyros, mouth-watering sides that showcase traditional flavours of Greece but with contemporary tastes in mind, and a huge array of vegetarian and vegan options to boot. I had an instant “OMG I have to try this” moment and got stuck into ordering what was likely to be far too much food for my wife and I to handle (as is always the case with me when it comes to ordering takeaway). I do love a leftover breakfast though!
Whilst waiting for my order to arrive curiosity got the better of me and I had a little delve into this wonderful concept. As it turns out the Athenian has no less than six successful London restaurants already as well as one in Bristol. Launched in 2014 by two brothers Efthymios and Neofytos with a desire to transform perceptions of Greek cuisine from outdated tourist tropes and offer a real taste of modern Greece here in the UK, using only the finest quality ingredients from independent Greek farmers and producers as well as local businesses here in the UK. The Athenian has only recently set up shop in Brighton and is currently operating on a delivery only basis on Deliveroo, which is rather ideal for these strange times. The more I read about The Athenian the more impressed I become, and my anticipation builds for what is surely going to be a delectable Hellenic treat to remember.
Our dinner arrives within the allotted time and it is great to see that it all comes in bio-degradable packaging. I was lucky enough to have several Greek-Cypriot friends growing up and the smells emanating from said packaging instantly transported me back to my youth, going around to their houses for dinner and experiencing home-cooked recipes handed down through the generations. My Pork and red onion gyros is just delicious. A generous portion of crispy pork shavings cooked to perfection oozing with delicious bitter caramelized chilli onion relish that adds a lovely sharpness to the proceedings and somehow enhance the flavour of the meat, crunchy oregano specked fries and crisp refreshing salad all wrapped up in a warm and fluffy pita. The freshness of the quality ingredients is certainly apparent, and the incredible range of flavours and textures make up a truly simple yet wonderful delicacy that is executed brilliantly by The Athenian. My wife, who is a recently converted vegetarian, thought the seitan-based vegan chicken in her gyros was even more tasty than the real deal and loved every mouthful of it.
The sides are every bit as impressive as the main event, and even though the gyros are very filling indeed we manage to get through all three of the sides we have ordered with zero leftovers for breakfast as we could not leave them alone! I have never experienced sweet potato fries as crispy as these. You can add a whole host of toppings and sauces such as extra gyros and traditional sauces. We plumped for Feta cheese and it did not disappoint, salty, creamy, and the perfect accompaniment to the sweet chips. The halloumi fries were chunky and plentiful and came topped with smoky paprika and fresh oregano to enhance the salty cheese, also complimented by a lovely creamy homemade Athenian sauce for dunking them in. It was the courgette fritters that really stole the show however, light, aromatic and oh so moreish. They had an intense flavour that just blew me away.
We absolutely loved The Athenian and I have no doubt we will be back for more. Everything on the menu looks delicious and I really hope they open a dine-in restaurant in Brighton once things start to get back to normal. In the meantime however I am content that I no longer have to spend hours searching through food delivery sites as I have a new go-to which I can see myself ordering on a weekly basis!