It has been quite a while since I last visited my good friends at Nik the Greek in Burry Port. One has succumbed to a bout of agoraphobia. It’s no big deal (of course it is) and I have limited my public appearances.
In an effort to the break cycle and conscious of the impact on Mrs TheLatestSupper, following an impromptu visit on Saturday (spawn of TheLatestSupper put on the puppy eyes), I noticed a several changes to the well trodden path that is the menu. Eager to sample some dishes I had never heard of; I hastily booked a table for mid-week and prepared myself both physically and mentally, for a good night out. At the outset I must say the establishment did not disappoint.
In the past when new menus were produced they were almost A3 affairs which were ‘permanent’ for the year. No scope to amend in any shape. I was pleased to see the more flexible and intriguing folder style menu. I say intriguing because in the same way a good novel becomes a page turner, so should the menu. It’s a culinary adventure and the plot should make you want to turn the page. In addition to this comes the ease that the restaurant can adapt. That is something Nik The Greek has always done rather well.
We like to order from the ‘meze’ menu as a rule. Choosing a few smaller plates & sharing. Nik is a feeder so smaller plates does not mean smaller portions, and should anyone leave hungry, then I would love to meet them.
For our meal we wanted to try two dishes from the ‘Mains’ menu whose description intrigued us both. However, before I get ahead of myself – we decided upon a starter. The old favourite of a “trio of dips & pita” has increased in choice from the usual hummus, tzatziki, and taramasalata, to include a spicy cheese and an aubergine based dip. I have sampled the both before when they were in the developmental stages, and I must say they were both tasty and rich. A change to the normal (Nik’s tzatziki is the best by a mile) we decided upon 2 hummus and a spicy cheese with an extra pita for our starter. To accompany this we ordered a glass of wine; for Madame the Pinot Rosé and the awesome fruity Shiraz pour moi.
Eventually as the relaxation of the evening continued our mains arrived. For Claire, “Beef Sofrito” whilst I plumped for the “Briam”.
The menu described the “Sofrito” as “traditional Corfiot dish. Pieces of beef seared in flour, and cooked in garlic, white wine, and herbs.” Should you not be familiar of the term Coriot, it is the pronoun for a person of Corfu. Nik is Coriot by birth and upbringing. Basically this was as close to home-cooking as you can get. Another recipe handed down from Mrs. Mouzatiki Snr., and a definite crowd pleaser. The first thing that struck me was the presentation. The dish comes with a choice of sides (chips, pasta or rice). Mrs LS ordered the rice. What I spied was a balanced plate – oval in shape with a bowl containing the “Sofrito” one side, and a ‘dome’ of rice on the other. Wedges of garlic bread neatly filling the canvas of this masterpiece above & below the main subject. Artistry in food no less.
As we often do we shared forkfuls to gain experience of the other’s choices. The term “melt in the mouth” is banded about quite often in cooking circles but this truly did. Like Nik’s “stifado” the meat was tender, full of flavour and just subtly exploded onto the taste buds. The creamy sauce perfectly accompanying the meat. A very mellow dish, not mild (as we often talk about spicy-ness), this is not hot at all, it is a relaxing comfort food, full on flavour and as light as an edible feather.
“Briam” is I quote, “Traditional Greek dish: chunks of roast vegetables seasoned with herbs.” What can I say first about this dish? Again the presentation was eye-catchingly stunning. However, beyond this was the taste and textures of the dish. As a foreword let me make it clear I have and will order the vegetarian option when the mood takes me. In fact in my 20s I was vegetarian for nye on 4 years. Back then I used eat at home and usually the menu was whatever Mam & Dad were having minus the meat. As you can imagine steak and chips night was pretty grim. There were a few outlets in Swansea, one in the market that did awesome salads with lentils. Yes I used to eat like Neil from “The Young Ones”. On one occasion I had to attend a course in Cambridge. I arrived at about 9pm and checked into my digs. I headed to the local pub which was bouncing from the outside. I entered and for the next 5 seconds which seemed an eternity, the silence was reminiscent of the pub in “An American Werewolf in London”!! I drank a pint of the local champion ale (no where near Double Dragon) and tried to find somewhere to eat. I managed to catch the chippy next door and yes, the only vegetarian dish on the menu was chips.
The following evening my cabbie who I had befriended suggested the best veggie restaurant in Cambridge. I ordered the Moussaka and lamented for the chips I had had the previous evening – bland, bland, bland!
Over the years I have gained several good friends who practise vegetarianism and whether it is choice or medical reasons, they have often used the term “alright” in response to the question “how was your meal”.
Too often a restaurant will either make the same dish minus meat and substitute with extra veg, or use a meat-free fake. The honest truth is a vegetable dish should be exactly that, not some rip off of a meat treat.
Enter the “Briam”. A dish of a veritable cornucopia of Aegean & Mediterranean vegetables roasted in among other herbs & spices, Rosemary, with a luscious gravy from the roasting process. Slightly spicy but not overbearing. The texture drew me in – what would the next forkful taste, & more importantly; feel like?
The flavours were unique as was this dish; not pretending to be the veggie equivalent of something else. Can veg be hearty? This dish certainly was and some.
We decided to forego dessert as we were satisfied. I had deliberated ignored my pangs of hunger throughout the day so that I could enjoy this double treat. One being out with the missus, and secondly the shear brilliance of Nik The Greek.
Five Stars just like my favourite Metaxa.
PS this is an totally unsolicited review and I have not been enticed or incentivised in any way (only saying!).Tags: Family, good times, Greek, Nik The Greek, Tasty