Think Christmas menus and you can have two very different experiences. The first I call “formula” – tried, tired and tested offerings. Prawn cocktail starter followed by the ubiquitous “Pembrokeshire turkey” with seasonal veg including sloppy sprouts, followed by a figgy pudding straight from Castell Howell.
This menu can easily set you back upwards of £20. Most diners don’t worry about the price as a) “It’s Christmas”; & b) it’s the ‘work’s do’ and everyone is pretty smashed. For myself, and to be honest, most people I know who don’t or can’t drink as if there’s no tomorrow; need to venture down less well trodden Christmas culinary paths. Fortunately if you live on the Carmarthenshire coast then the journey isn’t too arduous whilst worth every step to Burry Port’s exponent of fine dining, Nik the Greek.
Grecian cuisine and culture isn’t immediately entwined in our psyche when considering Christmas. The Yuletide story centres upon Jesus the Christ, son of God the Father, being born on earth and ultimately saving humanity. S hould you continue reading the New Testament, you will read the letters of Paul (formally Saul of Tarsus) to the Christian churches in Greece. Realising the importance of Greece in the spread of Christianity, not only did Grecians play huge part in Christmas, but also bringing the Christian message to the known world. Add one gifted Greek, Nikos Mouzakitis, and you have a festive menu made with both zeal and passion; offering the highest standards whilst not inflating the prices.
What’s new or different for the Christmas Menu 2021? Firstly we have to remember that Nikos provided us in 2020 with two fine mains. Pork or turkey roulade with seasonal stuffing, served with roasted vegetables and a ‘gravy’ taken directly from the roasting tin. I was extremely fortunate to sample both dishes before Christmas was cancelled.
For 2021, undaunted Nikos has surpassed himself in developing the “Christmas Specials” menu alongside the staple favourites from the meze and dinner menus. Beginning with “Kokoretsi” – which is described as a ‘Greek delicacy’ and it is. I’ve also heard it described as offal! That label does a huge dis-service to this dish and to Nikos’s skills. Meat lovers wouldn’t refer to faggots or haggis in this way. Trust me if you enjoy cooked moist, full flavoured meat this is well worth a tasting.
Moving onto the main courses you are greeted with the pinnacle of indecision. Do you order the “Turkey Souvlakia” – Turkey skewers marinated with “Mama‘s dressing”; unlike other menus and establishments that purport to have the “captains recipe” or “Papa’s sauce”; Mrs Mouzakitis actually hot footed from Corfu in order to oversee the production. If only I spoke Greek I would try to prise the recipe from her. Alternatively you must try the belly pork roulade with orange chestnut and plum stuffing.
Either choice greets you succulent, well presented meats. Turkey is infamously ‘dry’ however, this dish bears no resemblance to the stereotype.
Each plate comes with roasted potatoes & Mediterranean vegetables, together with Laxano. If you’ve never had Laxano, you are in for a treat. Simply put it is a delicious cabbage dish unlike any other cabbage I have tried. It is cooked and served in a rich yet subtle tomato sauce. It is certainly different and a new, pleasurable experience.
How then do you finish off an evening of fine dining like this? Nikos, once more, has pulled out of his chef’s hat the most appropriate complimentary dessert – a wondrous, moreish, if not decadent cheesecake. Chocolate and hazelnut dessert served with separate pouring pots of chocolate sauce and single cream. Chocolate… hazelnut… and a crunchy flaky base; a truly scrumptious end to a monumental meal which without drinks is an extremely competitive £26 per head.
Whatever you do this season, do not pass up the opportunity to enjoy a truly delicious, fine meal in safe surroundings. One further tip, reservations aren’t recommended, BUT…I would say, mandatory to avoid disappointment. Of course, you can get these dishes as take out too!