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Restaurant review: The Real Greek, Spitalfields Market

PUBLISHED: 18:00 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:12 05 October 2010

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SPITALFIELDS Market s burgeoning restaurant offering has seen chains pop up left, right and centre since its glass and steel makeover was completed early last year. The branches of Wagamama, Las Iguanas and La Tasca give the market building the feeling of

SPITALFIELDS Market's burgeoning restaurant offering has seen chains pop up left, right and centre since its glass and steel makeover was completed early last year.

The branches of Wagamama, Las Iguanas and La Tasca give the market building the feeling of an upmarket food court, a far cry from its edgy individuality of a few years back.

The Real Greek is one such culprit, occupying one of the new, modern units inside the listed market building, but its homely feel and friendly staff belie its chain restaurant heritage and, while waiters didn't exactly smash plates to signal our arrival, we were extended a warm welcome.

Much cosier than some of its other branches, the Spitalfields restaurant's walls feature a mural of a typical Greek village nestled into a hillside while soft lighting and dark brown leather banquettes contrast pleasantly with the stark empty market outside the window.

The place was bustling with diners and drinkers on the Thursday night of our visit and, although the restaurant was not at capacity, the kitchen was definitely a little stretched.

A selection of cold mezedes served with flatbread included creamy taramasalata, tomatoey bean dish gigandes plaki, a salad of beetroot, lentils and watercress and a red pepper and feta dip and were perfectly tasty but we were disappointed our first choices, and Greek cuisine stalwarts, of stuffed vine leaves and octopus were off the menu.

Hot mezedes of tender minced lamb kefte and bifteki meatballs with minty-yogurt sauce went down well but whoever was in charge of the char grill must have taken his eye off the prize.

Plump Anatolian gambas looked appealing enough but left an unpleasant charred, carbon taste in our mouths, which took a good couple of gulps of Malbec to wash away, and while most of two of the grilled sardines were just about edible, the third was left blackened, crumbling and untouched.

Greek lemon cake was the ideal foil to burnt fish, its zingy sponge and tart yogurt accompaniment quickly spring cleaning our mouths and washing away any remaining charcoaly residue.

The service and atmosphere at the Real Greek cannot be faulted but it seems the kitchen needs to get its act together to cope with busier times.

Ratings:

Food: **1/2

Ambience: ****

Service: ****

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