Greek restaurants are growing in popularity in the UK, as more and more people catch on to the diverse and delicious cuisine they have to offer. In fact Greek food is now so popular in the UK that it's making its way on to supermarket shelves, but if you want to sample some authentic Greek cuisine in traditional surroundings then you'll want to head to your nearest Greek eatery.
Greek restaurants - Flavours to savour
The main ingredients that go into Greek cooking include extra virgin olive oil, Greek honey, lemon, thyme, oregano, yoghurt and cheese, although Greek chefs tend to change their ingredients with the seasons. Many Greek dishes also have pulses and rice in them as well as vine leaves, which are stuffed with pine nuts, currants, and other foods.
Greeks enjoy appetisers as much as the main course, while desserts are also big on the agenda. Most Greek puddings are very sweet, so expect to see pastries, baklava, poached fruit and syrup-soaked sponges on the menu in a Greek restaurant.
Greek restaurants - First visit food
If you're planning your first trip to a Greek restaurant then you'll want to enjoy a good mix of Greek cuisine. Why not start with a range of appetisers (known as mezedes), such as taramasalata and hummus, aubergine puree, and fagakia, which consists of Greek pasta and a sauce.
For the main course you'll want to try a meat and vegetable dish, such as slow-baked lamb marinated in lemon and garlic, while a Greek salad with feta cheese, olives, cucumber and onion makes a great side order. For dessert choose a pastry or sponge cake.
Get a feel for Greek restaurants
Greek restaurateurs in the UK go to great lengths to make their eateries look and feel as authentic as the tavernas in Greece. You will find that many restaurants have Greek pillars, motifs, traditional music, and even plate smashing!
Most Greek meals start with a range of appetisers, or mezedes, such as hummus and taramasalata. This is usually eaten in an informal gathering, and isn't really considered to be a part of the main meal. This is followed with a main course of meat and vegetables, a sweet dessert, and of course, you can wash it all with the traditional Greek drink, Ouzo.
Find Greek food in the UK
The Real Greek, London - Run by Theodore Kyriakou, the pioneer of Greek food in the UK, this restaurant is split into two sections, one where you can enjoy an array of Greek appetisers and a main, formal, restaurant.
Café Corfu, London - This restaurant offers authentic Greek cuisine in traditional surroundings, and is gaining a reputation for its delicious and meticulous approach to Greek food.
Things to look out for at Greek restaurants in the UK
There are a few things to look out for when you go to a Greek restaurant, such as the entertainment offered at some establishments. After the meal, some Greek tavernas have traditional singers and dancers, and even plate smashing events, making them a great place for a celebration.
Secondly, cheese makes up an important part of Greek cuisine and that's probably why there are so many types of cheese to choose from. Look out for feta, anthotiros, formaella, galotiri, graviera, kefalotiri and manourin on the menu at a Greek restaurant near you.
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