It’s summer-time in London and the living just got breezier with the opening of Meraki.
Situated in the heart of Fitzrovia, the new restaurant sets out to champion a modern twist on classic Greek fare, mirrored by the inimitably-warm hospitality characteristic of the Mediterannean…
There’s flair and panache in stylish spades too, this being the latest restaurant from the Waney brothers behind Zuma, Roka, La Petit Maison and The Arts Club… Expect to be greeted by an achingly-trendy reception team, dressed by Athens-based designer Yvonne Bosnjak; and a resident DJ on the decks from Thursday evening through the weekend!
In fact, going by by our visit – just three days into the opening – Meraki is already a magnet for the cool crowd. There’s also a passion crackling behind the open-plan kitchen helmed by Dimitrios Siamanis, a Greek chef whose resume is peppered with Michelin-starred restaurants such as Zafferano, the Square and the Grill at the Dorchester.
The menu showcases quality ingredients from Greece manifesting in mezze and salads, pasta, chargrilled meats and fish served in their entirety. There’s a focus on Greek wine and cocktails, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and two al fresco terraces well-poised to take advantage of any Greek sunshine in London!
Having arrived early, we unhurriedly started our evening outside – with rosé champagne and a selection of dips served ingeniously with toasted pitta.
Tzatziki was our pick of the lot – searingly smooth strained yogurt punctuated by fresh cucumbers and a subtle hint of garlic. Melitzanosalata (smoked aubergine with coriander) and puréed fava beans were fresh, but to be frank, dull and missing a punch.
So it was on to the salads next, keenly anticipated given their impressive counterparts at the Arts Club and La Petit Maison. Relatively speaking, the selection at Meraki showed more restraint and didn’t quite deliver the same layers of finesse… The unavoidable comparison notwithstanding, it would be remiss not to appreciate the more subtle combination of flavours.
The signature Greek salad was refreshingly simple – sweet tomatoes and lightly salted feta, tumbled together with caper leaves and bittersweet olives. Humble lettuce leaves were given a creamy lift by a buttermilk dressing, with graviera cheese from Naxos lending a faint sweetness countered by a touch of nuttiness. An apple-based dressing and pickled veggies imparted an acidic bite to a bowl of puy lentils (although the preparation had absolutely nothing on the lentil salad at Arts).
Raisa did well by choosing a Greek-style ceviche too, its citrusy nature balanced by a neat shot of ouzo in the marinade. Opa!
We unhurriedly finished with a plate of hilopites – a Greek egg-based pasta that the restaurant usually dishes up with slow-cooked ox cheeks. But for this vegetarian, they rustled up an oh-so-summery sauce mined with rich Datterini tomatoes, crumbly feta and olives. We made sure to mop up all the remnants by requesting for another round of the rustic bread served at the start of our meal, before moving inside – to the lively kitchen counter – for afters.
The chocolate and hazelnut bar was as satisfyingly good as its name would suggest – the silky-smooth mousse sheathed by a decadently-rich glaze of chocolate and foiled by a sour cherry sorbet.
But it was the walnut cake which had the final word – layered with crumbly, moist and crunchy textures, its gentle nuttiness balanced by toffee notes and a delicate dollop of coffee namelaka cream. This triumph of a dessert is definitely the sort to be had with a strong Greek coffee, but in this case the tonka bean ice cream served on the side was an inviting bedfellow too.
In case you’re wondering (I know I was), the word ‘Meraki’ is the Greek term for the love and soul that one pour’s into their work. We thought it a fitting name for a restaurant in which the passion and dedication of the staff – including most notably, our Greek server Manos – proved to be a stand-out factor of an enjoyable evening here!
Meraki, 80-82 Great Titchfield Street, London, W1W 7QT
For more new & noteworthy restaurant openings in London, do have a read of my running round-up – here.