Tuesday, 13 March 2012

10 Greek Street

I’m not sure how qualified I am to speak about 10 Greek Street considering the state I was in when I stumbled across its threshold (let the word “stumbled” be a clue to you...), but even in muddled memory I know I will be returning in a sober state.

10 Greek Street had recently opened its doors just down the road in Soho and it was far too close and I had heard far too much praise to let its offerings go uneaten for long. The one hitch was that, along with seemingly every other new opening in town, it doesn’t take reservations. Knowing this, we had put our names in early enough, around 7:00, and repaired to a nearby bar for a few to while away the wait.

Fair enough it was a Friday night, and they do allow the luxury of giving you a call when a table clears, but by the time we were settled at our tiny table (get ready clash elbows) around 2 hours later, we were several particularly potent Negronis deep and squinting to see the chalkboard menu through the gin/Campari haze.

Or maybe that was the smoke – the downside of an open kitchen in such a small setting was smoke billowing across the counter and coaxing itself into clothing, so much so that I had to air my jacket overnight. Kang of London Eater had noticed the same, but I had put it down to growing pains and assumed it wouldn’t be an issue a few weeks in. Perhaps visit this week while the sun is shining and hope for a literal open-door policy?

Back to the board – we made some game-time decisions from the daily-changing menu: padrón peppers and burrata to start, and Welsh Black beef with beetroot, a shallot tarte tatin, and a whole baked seabass to share.

Knowing wine would be a highlight as co-owner Luke Wilson is an oenophile who has priced his selection with some of the lowest mark-ups in Soho (and staying sauced was a priority at the time), we ordered a Hungarian Tokaji on our waitress’ recommendation – a traditionally sweet but still crisp carafe; unusual and interesting.

Starters didn’t rise to the blog- and alcohol-fuelled expectations I had raised - the padrón peppers, charred and crunchy with crystals of sea salt, were delicious but standard among other Soho standbys (Barrica, Salt Yard...) and the skin-heavy burrata, although settled nicely in its puddle of fruity olive oil and under it a flurry of lemon rind and cracked pepper, lacked the bursting cream center requisite of an Italian original.

I was looking forward to the Welsh Black beef, a breed I had never seen identified on a London menu before, apparently so named because of their coal-black coats. The meat is known for being unusually tender as well as concentratedly ‘beefy’ as an Oxo cube. Although the purplely-rare slices of Welsh Black were both these things, they overwhelmingly underwhelming in their paradigmatic presentation - sliced thickly with pickled beetroot and horseradish cream and strewn with what I can only call microgreens (shudder).

So sobered, we opened another bottle – a 2008 Nalle California Zinfandel, which was rich and fruity. And the tide was turned - I didn’t even get a chance to snap the shallot tarte tatin before it was devoured by my fellow reprobates. Surrounded by salty but stunning chanterelles, capped with more melting mozz and scattered with rocket, the shallot bulbs were clustered with the thinnest casing of pastry and deeply caramelized in their own liquor. One of the boys seriously debated ordering another, and still claims he would have if sober enough to commit.

We finished on a high - meaty whole baked seabass with bitter sprouting broccoli, buttery new potatoes and radishes heaped onto a platter. As we flaked the tender flesh and scraped sides onto our plates, we got a feel for how the restaurant could be if it ironed out its inconsistencies.

Altogether unpredictable but a promising new opening nonetheless - the potential of reservations (take a cue from neighbour Duck Soup!) and sorting the smoke situation would clear my head about coming back. Pre-drinks or none.

10 Greek Street 
10 Greek Street, Soho,W1D 4DH

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